A girl wins a scholarship to an elite boarding school and finds herself entangled in a powerful secret society that threatens her life.
Sadie fears she won’t fit in at the uber-exclusive Keating school for the superwealthy in Virginia, but the school has a champion lacrosse team, and she’s a star player. When she arrives, she’s given unusual roommates: a British duke’s twin daughters, who can’t stay out of the tabloids. Almost immediately, Sadie finds herself abducted to a basement where she’s quizzed and drugged. She learns that she’s been recruited into a secret society that has operated for 200 years. The Order of the Optimates intends to run not only the country, but eventually the world by amassing power and assets into the hands of its members. Apparently, Sadie belongs in that club because of something she didn’t know about her mother. However, Sadie learns that a former member died suddenly, and as events transpire, she realizes that the society has far more sinister goals than she has been told and that she’s in danger too. Friend writes with a sure, often witty touch (a dress fits Sadie “like it had been hand knitted by magical fairies”). While the climax involves an odd murder stratagem that doesn’t appear terribly lethal, to that point, the story is both immersive and topically relevant.
A promising suspense debut. (Suspense. 12 & up)