Most are born twins in the Alskad Empire—anything else can be dangerous.
Since her twin died, Vi has been a ward of the temple in the city of Penby. Raised by the Suzerain, the religious order that rivals Queen Runa’s power, Vi is also a diminished. More commonly known as “dimmys,” these twins who have lost their siblings eventually become so grief-stricken that they lose their minds, behaving so violently that they are imprisoned or even executed. Elsewhere in Penby resides Bo, a singleborn boy who’s lived a life of luxury as Runa’s heir to the throne—until family secrets threaten to destroy the empire. After Vi is banished to the foreign, wild colonies of Ilor, Bo, traveling in disguise, sets out to locate her and solve the mystery of his lineage. Rival factions across the empire create more intrigue that envelops the teens. As the duo learn they may have more in common than they ever thought possible, they also discover their own strengths, loves, and sexuality. Vi and Bo are both white, and both are attracted to men. Other characters contribute to the diversity of ethnicity and sexuality in this story. Rich worldbuilding helps balance the slow, predictable narration told in Bo’s and Vi’s alternating voices.
An intriguing premise and well-constructed setting anchor this fantasy debut. (Fantasy. 14-adult)