Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, dreaming of an unremarkable life. But when her beloved father is found dead, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of a surprisingly unstable kingdom. What’s more, Hesina believes that her father was murdered—and that the killer is someone close to her.
Hesina’s court is packed full of dissemblers and deceivers eager to use the king’s death for political gain, each as plausibly guilty as the next. Her advisers would like her to blame the neighboring kingdom of Kendi’a, whose ruler has been mustering for war. Determined to find her father’s actual killer, Hesina does something desperate: she enlists the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by
death, since magic was outlawed centuries ago.
Using the information provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of Yan at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?
Note: Mild spoilers that are actually fairly big spoilers once you get the reference.
Review – I think my one misconception going into the book was that this would include way more action-battle fighting for the throne. Not sure WHY i thought that, but there you have it.
In reality this is EXACTLY what I love about fantasy – this was a book of strategy, moral gray roads and decisions that you can’t walk cleanly away from. At times it was hard
Hesina spends so much of this book trying to do the right thing, trying to justify her wrong actions as being for the right reasons, vilifying some people while idolizing others…to learn in the end the world is never meant to be so cleanly defined.
How do you choose between the lesser of two evils? Is it better to commit a hypocritical act that you think will save the country you forfeited your future for or to admit you failed in every way to be the ruler your people needed and admit your misbegotten deeds?
Our main characters – Hesina (newly crowned Queen of Yan), Caiyan (adopted brother & adviser to Hesina), Lilian (Caiyan’s twin & Hesina’s best friend), Akira (convict & Hesina’s only chance at finding the truth) and Sanjing (Hesina’s younger brother & General of the troops) all face a LOT of lesser evil decisions.
And part of those decisions involve how little they all truly know about each other and their motivations. Secrets upon secrets, promises made and broken, misunderstandings and long buried hurt feelings…how can anyone navigate these waters without causing consequences they couldn’t guess at?
The world is beautiful and so layered – close to when some inevitable and painful truths are revealed, Hesina reflects on deeper meaning that she missed. Clues left behind that she didn’t think to tie together.
This is a book that even if you are TOLD how it plays out in the end, you couldn’t understand without following Hesina’s journey. Every step she had to walk, every painful realization, every moment her world crumbled just a little more…you have to follow it.
Love is a dangerous emotion – it blinds you, confuses you, makes you react in ways you skewer others for. For love of a father Hesina demands the truth, for love of a daughter a father dies, for love of a sister a brother betrays her trust, for love of a country lies are permitted to spread because the truth would destroy them all.
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Published by: Albert Whitman Company
Release: April 9, 2019
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