A high school sophomore discovers revenge comes with a price.
When Ember Williams entered Heller High, she had a particular goal in mind: to join the Red Court, a powerful secret organization with a track record for, among other things, influencing student elections, altering grades, and spreading slander. Carrying out these actions doesn’t cost money but instead leaves the requester indebted, with a favor that can be called in at the Red Court’s whim. Ember’s invitation finally comes, setting in motion her four-step plan to take down the Queen of Hearts—the group’s leader—and dismantle the organization as revenge for an accident the Court caused that left her sister, April, paralyzed. At first, her missions seem relatively mild—posing for a picture to incite a breakup or leaving notes to request favors from indebted students—and they even lead to a budding relationship with Chase Merriman, a know-it-all with whom Ember competes to be top of their class. However, the missions soon escalate, affecting those closest to her—like her best friend, Gideon—and as Ember learns more about her sister’s accident, she begins to reevaluate both her intentions and her decision to stay in the Court. Laurin’s novel tackles the destructive power of high school bullying through characters who are compelling in their complexity; their deceitfulness is often a means of survival. Most characters are White by default; Gideon is gay and biracial (White/Korean).
Gripping, thrilling, Machiavellian.(Thriller. 14-18)