Sisters Lu and Min have always understood their places as princesses of the Empire. Lu knows she is destined to become the dynasty’s first female ruler, while Min is resigned to a life in her shadow. Then their father declares their male cousin Set the heir instead—a betrayal that sends the sisters down two very different paths.
Determined to reclaim her birthright, Lu goes on the run. She needs an ally—and an army—if she is to succeed. Her quest leads her to Nokhai, the last surviving wolf shapeshifter. Nok wants to keep his identity secret, but finds himself forced into an uneasy alliance with the girl whose family killed everyone he ever loved…
Alone in the volatile court, Min’s hidden power awakens—a forbidden, deadly magic that could secure Set’s reign…or allow Min to claim the throne herself. But there can only be one Emperor, and the sisters’ greatest enemy could turn out to be each other.
I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This should have been one of those “I’ve read this before books”, and although the premise is similar to many books out there, the author brings an utterly fresh take and I found myself unable to put this book down.
Lu and Min are two sides of a coin. Lu the first daughter, trained all her life to take over the throne, described as beautiful and strong willed, and Min the daughter no body really takes notice of, not as pretty or as self-assured as her older sister. However Min has a power within her that no one foresees.
I thoroughly enjoyed how although this is a book about rival sisters, they weren’t set against each other in the typical sense. They love each other and would never want to cause the other harm. Lu does what she can to protect her little sister, and although Min resents not being as beautiful as her sister she still wants no harm to come to her.
Lu is, to start off with, not an overly likeable character. She seems entitled and brushes her sister off along with the rest of the world. However, as the book progresses, you come to see things from Lu’s perspective. Raised to believe she would become “The Girl King” and then to have that all taken away by a scheming mother and a weak father, you find yourself bonding with her easily. Min, on the other hand, you feel sorry for from the get-go. Shoved to the side to make room for her “better” sister, she is easy prey for those who seek to use her for her station in life and her unseen power.
The writing in this book is sublime, and the detail the author goes into when describing scenes really drags you into the book. I really loved the lore that Yu used, and although shapeshifter’s and the like and quite prevalent in fantasy books these days, she managed to make the story seem fresh and keep you intrigued.
The only part of this book I disliked was the romance arc between Lu and Nokhai. It just seemed irrelevant to the story and I felt it was slightly rushed. I am, however a lover of a slow burn, and would have been happier if they had hidden their feelings until later in the book.
Have you read this yet? What did you think? I’d heard so many good reviews for this and I’m so happy it lived up to the hype. I will definitely be picking up the sequel because I need to make sure everyone is ok after that ending! Overall this was a 4/5 for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, however, I felt that it got slightly drawn out in parts, and as stated didn’t really “feel” the romance arc, this was the one part of the book I felt was a bit rushed. Ultimately though this didn’t take from my overall enjoyment of the book, and I would still highly recommend for someone looking for a unique and enjoyable fantasy novel.