[Review] Rule by Ellen Goodlett

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*I received a copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Title: Rule (Rule #1)
Author: Ellen Goodlett
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 11, 2018

Three girls with three deadly secrets. Only one can wear the crown.

The king is dying, his heir has just been murdered, and rebellion brews in the east. But the kingdom of Kolonya and the outer Reaches has one last option before it descends into leaderless chaos.

Or rather, three unexpected options.

Zofi has spent her entire life trekking through the outer Reaches with her band of Travelers. She would do anything to protect the band, her family. But no one can ever find out how far she’s already gone.

Akeylah was raised in the Eastern Reach, surrounded by whispers of rebellion and abused by her father. Desperate to escape, she makes a decision that threatens the whole kingdom.

Ren grew up in Kolonya, serving as a lady’s maid and scheming her way out of the servants’ chambers. But one such plot could get her hung for treason if anyone ever discovers what she’s done.

When the king summons the girls, they arrive expecting arrest or even execution. Instead they learn the truth: they are his illegitimate daughters, and one must become his new heir. But someone in Kolonya knows their secrets, and that someone will stop at nothing to keep the sisters from their destiny… to rule.

Magic, mystery, and blackmail abound in this sensational and striking fantasy debut.
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Review: Rule is a fantasy that kept me guessing! It’s a fantasy with a side of suspense it definitely kept me on my toes. This book is about Zofi, Akeylah, and Ren who each discover they are the king’s daughters after his only heir is killed. They have to compete for the crown and impress their father to claim it. They basically become queens-in-training and each have to learn everything royal-related. The only twist is that they all have secrets that could get them killed.

Rule is about a country that was divided long ago. Not only by conflict, but also by magic. There are those that can do magic in one kingdom, and those who cannot in another. The magic they do involves sacrifice in the form of blood. They make cuts on their bodies in order to perform it, but they are drained of energy afterwards. I love when a magic system has its consequences because then it feels more authentic. There is also a darker side to this blood magic as well called the Vulgar Arts and, well…if that isn’t self- explanatory, I don’t know what is.

This book is told from the POV’s of Zofi, Akeylah, and Ren. It was so hard to decide who my favourite was because they are all so different! The main plot of this book besides them competing for the crown is that they have to figure out who is blackmailing them before they are each exposed for their crimes against Kolonya. They turn against each other because they believe it’s one of them, but it ends up bringing them closer together.

Some things I think brought this book down for me were the worldbuilding, character development, and pacing. I would have loved to learn more about the overall history and mythology and landscape of this world. It was also difficult to really get a sense of each character because the story is told from three POV’s so it kept switching back and forth. Albeit, each chapter was a definite cliffhanger in itself and it made me want to keep reading to find out what happened. Everything also seemed like it happened too fast. I almost feel like it’s because this is a duology that things were rushed a bit. Maybe a trilogy would have given more space to improve these issues.

No matter how much I tried to guess who the villain was in this book, I was completely off base! Everyone is basically a suspect and the suspense was killing me. This book is pitched as Three Dark Crowns meets Pretty Little Liars and I can definitely see why. Rule has everything from murder, plotting, blackmail, forbidden magic, forbidden romance, suspense, and a cliffhanger ending. I definitely recommend it and I’m excited to see where the story ends.

Content Warning: depictions of self-harm, mentions of child abuse.

 

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