A young woman has been kept hidden for most of her life, but a rare excursion leads to a confrontation with the authorities that are her biggest fear—until she becomes theirs.
At the opening of Rule’s second novel (Strange Sweet Song, 2014), the protagonist’s monthly outing with her twin sister goes badly, and she starts to unravel the dark myth about her kind—the redwing—that has forced her into a life so small she doesn’t have a name. As she learns her own power, she becomes entangled with a secret order of priests, a group of rebels, and the son of the Empress. Though the cover says “yet another Twilight clone,” readers shouldn’t be fooled. Writing in the first person, Rule uses sharp, lyrical prose to describe a culture with its own gods and monsters, mixing ancient worlds and new technology. Although the narrator is blonde with “hyacinth blue” eyes, Rule sidesteps most “chosen one” tropes in favor of dry wit and earthy, original expressions such as “How in wet hell—?” and “Mol’s blazing buttocks!” Romantic moments are sweetly awkward, but it’s action that drives the story. Secondary characters fulfill archetypes, but happily, they’re not all dudes. The attack-happy fighter, the crotchety old lockpick, the stern and determined reporter: all women.
Rule delivers a funny, exciting adventure for readers ready to move on from doe-eyed heroines swooning over rugged heroes. (Fantasy. 12 & up)