Rule – Ellen Goodlett (Advanced Reader Copy)

37946451RATING: ⭐️⭐️

SYNOPSIS:

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.

REVIEW (Spoiler Free):

I was fortunate to receive an uncorrected advanced reading copy of Rule from NOVL at Book Con 2018.

I am so bummed. When I heard NOVL was doing an ARC drop of Rule at Book Con I was thrilled! The synopsis sounded intriguing and I couldn’t wait to dive into a new fantasy. Grabbing Rule from the NOVL booth was the first thing my friend and I did at Book Con. I am sorry to say that Rule was a huge let down for me.

This book is pitched as “Three Dark Crowns meets Pretty Little Liars.” I haven’t read TDC, but I definitely think Rule leaned more to the Pretty Little Liars comparison. The only big comparison to TDC is that there are multiple heirs vying for the same crown. However, this is not the main plot point of the story and it’s really only the catalyst for bringing our protagonists together. The main conflict/plot is that the girls are being threatened by an unknown blackmailer ~ which is like Pretty Little Liars with A. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it wasn’t for me. It felt very soap opera-esc and juvenile. It just wasn’t the book I expected.

Now for the world-building…or lack thereof. Our story takes place in the Reaches, which is a nation made up of five regions. This world was interesting and could have been great, but it came up short. I felt like I was thrown into this world and given both too much information and not enough. There was a lot of information dumping, but it barely scratched the surface. I know that sounds like a contradiction, but it’s the only way I can think of to explain my thoughts. The reader is quickly given a ton of info purely to set up the story instead of build a world. It also bothered me that everything happened very sequentially…meaning if “x” happened to Zofi in chapter 1, it would then happen to Akeylah in chapter 2 and Ren in chapter 3. This wouldn’t have been as big of an annoyance to me if the world building had been better.

One thing that I did like was the magic system. I thought the Blood Arts and Vulgar Arts were fascinating…especially the latter. At first I was confused and I couldn’t really visualize it (I think this has to do with being thrown into the world). It became clearer as the story progressed and the magic was shown and explained more. For example, there is a chapter where the characters discuss different tithes and ways to use the blood arts. The magic definitely felt unique, but I wish we could have explored it more.

I did love seeing strong, diverse female leads narrating our story. The problem was I just wasn’t very attached to them. Again, this has to do with being thrown into the world and flooded with information. For example, we are told that Zofi loves Elex and that they have this amazing bond, but we don’t really know why. We’re just told that they’ve grown up together. This relationship could probably benefit from a prequel. I also felt like the character development was lacking. Our protagonists do get from point A to B, but it kind of just happens quickly and too easily.

I enjoyed the mystery of the blackmailer and trying to figure out who it was. It was a slow start, but the last third of the book definitely picked up and got me excited. But, I am so mad about the ending. WHAT A LET DOWN! I’m so disappointed. If anyone wants to talk about the ending and their thoughts please send me a message! I’d love to know what other readers think!!

FINAL THOUGHTS:

  • Beautiful cover!
  • More Pretty Little Liars than Three Dark Crowns.
  • The world had a ton of potential, but it came up short due to information dumping.
  • Cool magic system!
  • Strong, diverse female protagonists.
  • Poor character development.
  • Very frustrating and annoying ending.
  • Ended with a cliffhanger so will there be a sequel? If there is a sequel I don’t think I’ll read it.
  • Overall I was disappointed by Rule and I am so bummed about that.

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