In this debut novel, the fate of a land rests on two young rulers with little in common.
In Yigris, there is Above and there is Under. Above are the nobles, ruled by a king. Under is home to thieves, assassins, and the queen who leads them. But the balance shifts when both rulers are assassinated and their heirs, Gemma and Tollan, must work together to save their people and Yigris. Gemma has spent most of her life preparing to be queen of Under, but nothing could have truly prepared her for this monumental task. Now she must rely on her training, a trusted band of friends, and a sheltered prince to stop a devastating war. Filak plays with interesting concepts of female empowerment: While Above is inherently patriarchal and misogynistic, Under is liberated and led by women. Although Gemma and the world of Under come vividly to life, other aspects of the novel fall flat. Readers will appreciate Gemma’s strength and wit, but Tollan is frustratingly ineffectual and ends up feeling more like a plot device than a central character. Gemma is white, and Tollan is dark-skinned as well as being gay and exploring his sexuality.
While a glorious celebration of female power, this novel doesn’t quite fulfill its immense potential. (Fantasy. 16-adult)