Rating: 4.2 Stars
Set in an alternate world in centuries past, we follow Brianna as she works towards becoming “impassioned” with knowledge so that she may be taken in as a patron in a household. Considering the mystery surrounding her unknown mixed parentage, her grandfather feels that this is the best possible path for her, while Brianna isn’t so sure. As her training comes to an end, Brianna discovers that there is more within her, directing her down a path of uncertainty, rather than the one she had trained for and expected.
Right away, we are thrown into the world of “passioned” girls – those who develop a marketable skill set through years of training. Patrons vie for their attentions in an almost reverse job interview upon their graduation. An excellent twist on the historical fiction is that of the elevated female position. It is Queens that take the throne, not kings, it is daughters who inherit, not sons. Girls are prized more than boys. This gender reversal appears to create almost an even playing field amongst the battle of the sexes (with girls possessing more political power, however less physical power). It is the societal norm. In this sense, Ross has created a very interesting world.
Brianna herself is an interesting character to follow. Almost immediately we can see that she doesn’t rightly fit in this “passioned” place, so her role must occur somewhere else. We see her reflect on the ease in which her “sisters” find themselves in this world, as she does not. She is not as talented, nor as driven, but she is curious. It’s this curiosity that we as readers can cling to as we follow her throughout the story.
This book was one of those situations, where it’s best not to read the editorial hook, because it gives so much away that happens so late in the book (it’s spoilers occur more than halfway through). If you’re smart and you choose to ignore it, the book moves at a decent pace, the writing style keeps you engaged, despite the stronger storyline occurring later on. If you review the hook right before reading it, you may find yourself quite disappointed at how long it takes for the story to develop. The excellent job of building up suspense is tainted by your preconceived knowledge of what Brianna’s path will be turns it into a predictable tale we simply wait to unfold.
Recommendation: If an alternative history is in your interest level, the book is worth the read, but try to ignore the hook.