on October 13, 2020
Series: Beyond the Ruby Veil #1
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy & Magic, dark
Source: Paperback ARC from Publisher
A dark, queer YA fantasy that's perfect for fans of the Three Dark Crowns series and Wicked Saints. After Emanuela Ragno kills the one person in Occhia who can create water, she must find a way to save her city from dying of thirst.
Emanuela Ragno always gets what she wants. With her daring mind and socialite schemes, she refuses to be the demure young lady everyone wants her to be. In her most ambitious move yet, she's about to marry Alessandro Morandi, her childhood best friend and the heir to the wealthiest house in Occhia. Emanuela doesn't care that she and her groom are both gay, because she doesn't want a love match. She wants power, and through Ale, she'll have it all.
But Emanuela has a secret that could shatter her plans. In the city of Occhia, the only source of water is the watercrea, a mysterious being who uses magic to make water from blood. When their first bruise-like omen appears on their skin, all Occhians must surrender themselves to the watercrea to be drained of life. Everyone throughout history has given themselves up for the greater good. Everyone except Emanuela. She's kept the tiny omen on her hip out of sight for years.
When the watercrea exposes Emanuela during her wedding ceremony and takes her to be sacrificed, Emanuela fights back...and kills her. Now Occhia has no one to make their water and no idea how to get more. In a race against time, Emanuela and Ale must travel through the mysterious, blood-red veil that surrounds their city to uncover the secrets of the watercrea's magic and find a way to save their people-no matter what it takes.
Beyond the Ruby Veil is a young adult fantasy and is the first in the Beyond the Ruby Veil series by Mara Fitzgerald. Though this book is definitely a fantasy, it also kind of read like a horror novel in that the premise is truly very scary! At least, it was for me. Beyond the Ruby Veil is a book that perplexed me. There were some things that I really, really liked and some things that just did not work out for me. I can see this being a smash hit for a lot of readers because the premise is really cool, and interesting. So I will start out with the aspects of this novel that I enjoyed and then we will get into what didn’t work for me. But overall, this was an interesting dark fantasy that will intrigue a lot of readers. The plot is super intriguing and lends itself really well to a cool world and story setup. I am interested to see where the story goes from here.
Beyond the Ruby Veil takes place in a world where there are a small collection of villages or towns, and in each of these towns there is a magical creature known as a Watercrea, who creates the water for the town. The Watercrea is the town’s only known source of water, so as you can imagine she is pretty darn important to the town’s survival. The watercrea converts blood to water in a mysterious magical ritual very few people understand. And this is where the book started to turn into a horror novel for me- the Watercrea gets the blood from the town’s inhabitants. Whenever a person gets a blood bruise/mark on their body, they are supposed to report directly to the watercrea’s tower so they can give up their life in order to supply the town with water. Am I the only person that sounds horrifying to? What an awful way to have to life. Also, I would not want to drink water that I knew came from my neighbors blood. It was such a bizarre world setup that I was immediately drawn in and fascinated by all of the details that Mara Fitzgerald dreamt up. I loved the world and the plot, even though it did truly terrify me. Later the book takes place in the underground catacombs that connect all of the towns, and I loved that spooky setting for this creepy tale. I won’t go into specifics but there are plenty of other surprisingly and genuinely horrifying plot points and events that take place in the book to really give in to the eerie vibe of the towns and the story. I think fans of dark fantasies will love this unique plot. In my opinion the plot is the strongest point of the story. I really liked it.
Unfortunately, I did not love the main character Emanuela. I got the feeling that she was supposed to be on the unlikable side on purpose, but I just couldn’t get behind her, which made me buying into her journey hard for me at times. I loved the journey so much that I was able to deal with it, but I found Emanuela to be just plain mean. The book starts out on her wedding day to her best friend. And she is not very nice to him. Like at all. When Emanuela is outed for having a mark on her body she is sent to the Watercrea, and Emanuela fights back and kills the watercrea. I understand the reasoning behind her action, which was admittedly very selfish. I really do get it, but I didn’t really see any sort of character growth for her at all. She irked me the entire way through the book. But she was a great inclusion in this completely spooky, dark tale. She lends herself really well to the dark vibes of the book, and the power struggles because she is such a dominant in your face type of character. I can see her being a huge hit with many readers of this book. She just wasn’t my cup of tea.
Bottom line: I think plot driven readers that are looking for a dark tale, will love Beyond the Ruby Veil. I loved how unique and interesting this setup felt. I haven’t read any other book like this one, and that is saying something. I enjoyed Beyond the Ruby Veil and I am interested to see where the author takes it next
“Perfect for fans of Holly Black’s The Cruel Prince and Emily A. Duncan’s Wicked Saints…a must-purchase for YA collections.”—School Library Journal
“A fast-paced debut that reaches spectacularly bloody heights.”—Kirkus
“Fitzgerald populates her story with fierce women who rule cities and seek glory.”—Booklist
PRE ORDER INCENTIVE!
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YOU WILL RECEIVE:
- One signed bookplate
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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2020 New Release Challenge
- ARCtober 2020