Published by Delacorte Press on October 29, 2019
Series: Gravemaidens #1
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy & Magic, Romance
Source: Paperback ARC from Publisher
The start of a fierce fantasy duology about three maidens who are chosen for their land's greatest honor...and one girl determined to save her sister from the grave.
In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame.
When Alu's ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honor. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her.
But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is—a death sentence.
Desperate to save her sister, Kammani schemes her way into the palace to heal the ruler. There she discovers more danger lurking in the sand-stone corridors than she could have ever imagined and that her own life—and heart—are at stake. But Kammani will stop at nothing to dig up the palace’s buried secrets even if it means sacrificing everything…including herself.
Gravemaidens is the first book in the young adult Gravemaidens duology by author Kelly Coon. I loved Gravemaidens! Everything about this book felt well crafted. The plot was super intriguing and felt fresh, the characters were all awesome and multi-dimensional, and most importantly, I wanted to just keep reading the story forever. I am so excited for Warmaidens’ release later this year. Now is the perfect time to read Gravemaidens and get excited for Warmaidens, which is currently slated to release in October 2020.
In Gravemaidens we meet our main character Kammani, who is training to be a healer like her father. In her kingdom of Alu, when the king nears the end of his life, the kingdom has a tradition of selecting three beautiful sacred maidens to accompany the king into the afterlife as his brides. It is supposed to be a great honor, but when Kammani’s sister gets selected she will do anything to save her from death. Including going to the palace and trying to save the king. What happens next is a fast paced adventure full of secrets. I never knew who I could trust and who I couldn’t, and trying to navigate the world of the palace with Kammani was so much fun. I had my suspicions, and while I was correct some of the time, I was not correct all of the time, which was really refreshing for me as a reader. I also really loved that Kammani’s talent were not in fighting, she was kick butt in another way- through her healing. But make no mistake, Kammani is definitely fierce. I can’t wait to see what is in store for her and her friends in the next book.
While this first book was by no means only a foundational novel, I do think it built the story in such a way to lend itself to an awesomely epic sequel. A lot happened in this book, but it ended at the perfect spot to leave you desperately anxious for the next, and sadly the final, installment in this duology. This book seemed to draw heavy influences from Anicient Egyptian and Sumerian cultures and traditions, including views of the afterlife. I really enjoyed that aspect of the story because I feel like there are not enough well done young adult fantasies that do draw on these cultures.
Overall, Gravemaidens was a wonderful read. Once I picked it up, I didn’t want to put it down. If you are a fan of young adult fantasies featuring friendship, sisterhood, romance and plenty of secrets and adventure, Gravemaidens is a book that will be a wonderful addition to any fantasy lovers collection. It feels fresh and different, and the story is so well done. I loved this book and I am in desperate need of Warmaidens. I need it in my life right now.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2020 Tackle My TBR Reading Challenge
- Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge 2020