This was a book that REALLY IRRITATED ME – because I didn’t know going in that it was only the first one. And now I have to *wait* for the next one. And I *will* be anxiously waiting, because I truly LOVED this book. So you’ve been warned.
Red is the second daughter of the Queen. As such, it is her destiny to be given to the Wolf to – hopefully – release the long-awaited kings and keep back the monsters. Her twin sister, older by just minutes, is destined to rule. But things go awry when both women decide that they should have a say in their own fates.
One of the things I enjoyed most about this book is that both main characters are strong women in their own right. Essentially neglected by their mother, they’ve leaned on each other for love and support, knowing from the time they were little what path their lives would take. When Red is banished to face the Wolf, both women have to face life without their twin – and their refusal to just go along sets them up for some choices that will have life-altering consequences, for them and for those around them.
The writing kept me engrossed – I essentially read this in a day. The worldbuilding is fantastic, particularly when getting into this entire other world that they only *think* they understand. The characters were sympathetic – even those who were doing “bad” things were trying to do them for what they saw as noble reasons. Because isn’t that most of us? We generally don’t start OUT bad – but we make a series of choices that are grey, and then it just gets easier and easier to make more choices that lean more towards wrong than right, with the justifications that we tell ourselves to make it ok.
Even though this is marketed as an adult novel, it truly feels more YA or NA to me. Both girls are only 20, so maybe that’s why? But had I not already known, I would have guessed YA. Honestly, more mature 7th or 8th-graders could read this and love it.
I know some people complained about the characters feeling “flat”, or that they couldn’t get into the story – but I feel so much of that was because this book was compared to The Bear and The Nightingale, so expectations were super high. There are few things – if any – that can truly be compared to that book or its trilogy, so if that’s what people were looking for? I can see why they would find this lacking. I had, quite honestly, forgotten about that comparison when I read this. And I think *because* I had forgotten it? I had no expectations going in. I was able to enjoy the story on its own merits instead.
If I still worked at Powell’s, this would go on a list of my Top 10 Novels thus far for the year, and I would be doing a shelf-talker and sharing with ALL THE PEOPLE. Unfortunately, I don’t – so I’m telling y’all. RUN, do not walk, to get this book. Unless you don’t like waiting for follow-ups. Then, maybe, do it anyway. 😉