• Abigail Woodruff

Review of "Rule" by Ellen Goodlett

I received a copy of this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review on "Rule", and let me tell you, I am so glad that I am able to talk to you all about this wonderful book and try to persuade you to buy it when it does come out! The tagline that interested me in this book in the first place was Kendare Blake's "Three Dark Crowns" meets "Pretty Little Liars". I adored "Three Dark Crowns", and while I am not the biggest fan of angsty teenage mysteries, I can get the appeal behind it. I am happy to announce that the tagline is an actual representation of how I felt when reading it. You get the atmospheric fantasy world and 3-sister perspective from "Three Dark Crowns", you get the secrets that threaten to tear everything apart from "Pretty Little Liars" (Although, I think these secrets are even more dark and juicy than anything you could find in a contemporary mystery), and I would also like to say that I even felt a bit of "Children of Blood and Bone" in there with strong female characters of colour and a kingdom being torn apart by magic. With all of those comparisons being discussed, I just want to say that this is a new story unto its own. Sometimes I can struggle with books being too similar to one another, but I have to say that the plot, while reminiscent of things I have read before in small increments, is completely its own story with twists and turns that you won't find elsewhere. It is also brilliantly written in that it draws you in completely. It might have taken me a few days to read, but the fact that I was able to get through as quickly as I did amidst a reading slump is saying something. If anything, it helped me get out of that slump because it's been a long time since I really wanted to get back to my book and see what was happening.

If that isn't enough to persuade you to pick it up, I am delighted to say that this book has women of colour and women from the LGBTQ+ community featured as main characters, and can I just say, the romance between the two women is SO freaking swoon-worthy. It felt a little insta-lovey to me, but it progresses naturally, and at least they fancied each other right away rather than a hate-to-love relationship which seems even less-likely to me. It also dealt a lot with prejudice. If someone came to court dressed differently or acting differently, there was a lot of talk about how it's important to remain true to yourself. Overall I really loved the messages and the representation found in this book. I think it is so hard to find representation in fantasy in particular, and to have it be very evident without it being the main focus of the story is a huge step in the right direction for YA especially.

The 3 girls are all very different, so I think that most readers will find themselves rooting for and connecting with one girl more over the others... although I would be surprised if that girl was Florencia because she was hella judgemental and pompous at the beginning and even a bit at the end (personal opinion). What I love about the differences, though, is that you have a lot of varied types of characters where you wouldn't usually see them. There is Zofi- the stereotypical fantasy girl- you know the one, rough around the edges, but a warrior at heart and willing to risk it all, but you also have Florencia who is more refined and knows her way around court and how to civilly get what she wants, and then my personal favourite Akeylah who helps primarily by burying herself in books in the library and research. Everyone loves a hero who doesn't necessarily hold a sword.

Before I go into what I didn't like so much, and the spoilery bits, I just want to say that I give this book a 4 stars out of 5 and I would IMPLORE you to check it out. I really do think that it will have you hooked and on the edge of your seat. It is available September 11th & if you do end up picking it up, come back so we can discuss your favourite character and so you can read beyond this line...



Alright, so the few things that I didn't like I feel are spoilers. The biggest issue that I had with the whole book is that nothing at all seemed to get solved. Here we are a few hundred pages later and the main issue and the entire point of the book is still up in the air. And, it's not like it's Harry Potter where there is an enemy we are trying to destroy and it takes awhile, we are just still completely unaware about the blackmailer which is the thing that kept me reading the whole time. In my creative writing lessons, I learned that there always has to be an issue to push the whole story forward (and there is) but there is literally no reprieve from that tension ever, there is no big reveal, and therefore there is not really a climax... do you see what I am saying? There are still twists and turns, so it's not like there is never anything happening, but you'd think there'd be a reveal as it was the point of the entire story. And because this is a duology, I know that there will need to be more tension in the next novel, I just would have thought that would be more focused on the sisters and who was going to take the crown rather than this ambiguous blackmailer. UGH.

Also, the boys in the book suck. Like there is definitely only one love interest that I am rooting for and it's definitely Akeylah's (AKA a woman)...

Also, how come Akeylah didn't just leave at the beginning? She keeps saying... "Where will I go? I can't go back to my step-father's, but also I don't want to be here" and I am like... there are more options than just those two. Like, you can totally go get a job or become a traveler, etc. Anyway, those last two are stupid little things that just bothered me, but together they managed to knock my rating down from a 5 to a 4.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to discover this new gem!

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