Sixteen-year-old Koral and her older brother Emrik risk their lives each day to capture the monstrous maristags that live in the black seas around their island. They have to, or else their family will starve.
In an oceanic world swarming with vicious beasts, the Landers―the ruling elite, have indentured Koral’s family to provide the maristags for the Glory Race, a deadly chariot tournament reserved for the upper class. The winning contender receives gold and glory. The others―if they’re lucky―survive.
When the last maristag of the year escapes and Koral has no new maristag to sell, her family’s financial situation takes a turn for the worse and they can’t afford medicine for her chronically ill little sister. Koral’s only choice is to do what no one in the world has ever dared: cheat her way into the Glory Race.
But every step of the way is unpredictable as Koral races against contenders―including her ex-boyfriend―who have trained for this their whole lives and who have no intention of letting a low-caste girl steal their glory. When a rebellion rises and rogues attack Koral to try and force her to drop out, she must choose―her life or her sister’s―before the whole island burns.
She grew up battling the monsters that live in the black seas, but it couldn’t prepare her to face the cunning cruelty of the ruling elite.
Perfect for fans of The Hunger Games and These Violent Delights, this South Asian-inspired fantasy is a gripping debut about the power of the elite, the price of glory, and one girl’s chance to change it all.
Gotta admit, it was the title and cover that drew me to this book. Comp titles of The Hunger Games and These Violent Delights told me I was in for an exciting read.
Koral and her family live in a dangerous world filled with deadly creatures both in the sea and air. As hunters, Koral and her brother must capture maristags, arguably the most deadly of these creatures, for the Glory Race. Trust me, this is not a job you want. Hunters risk their lives with every capture. This society is a caste system of Landers, the ruling class, and Renters, those on the bottom rung. Falling in the latter group, Koral and her family are lucky to have a roof over their heads and food on the table, but struggle to provide medicine her younger sister desperately needs. When their financial situation drastically changes, Koral has no choice but to enter the Glory Race. The problem? Only Landers may compete.
The race is very similar to The Hunger Games in that some of the contestants don’t survive, and the challenges aren’t for the faint of heart. Action moves at a breathtaking pace during these challenges, and I even gasped at certain points. The contestants ride maristags (the picture on the cover), and although they’re not horses, I was still reminded of Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races. Clearly the stakes are high and the odds of survival slim, but Koral has no choice if she wants to save her sister and secure her family’s financial future.
This world is full of unrest and power struggles. I was a little confused, but it seemed as if several rebel groups operated under the same umbrella. With no clear leader, they fought not only against the Landers, but also against each other and lacked communication. It’s not the primary focus, but romance is included in the story, and I was intrigued by the unusual dynamic between Koral and Dorian.
With numerous power struggles, deadly creatures bent on killing humans, and a race with few survivors, this novel engaged me from beginning to end. After that cliffhanger, I’m anxious to see where the next book goes.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.