The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

lost-kingdom-of-bamarre

4 out of 5

I received an ARC of this work

The Latki and Bamarre share a kingdom, with the Latki ruling and the Bamarre working as a permanently subjugated underclass. Peregrine is a girl stuck between worlds. She was born to a Bamarre family but a Latki Lady stole her from her family (apparently Perry’s father had been stealing food from a garden). Raised as Latki, when her heritage is revealed she must choose her side and the world she wants to be a part of.

Like the companion book, The Two Princesses of Bamarre, the shadows of the original fairy tale are very slight. Perry’s magical hair and her brief tower imprisonment make a slight appearance, but this novel is much more than just a rewrite of Rapunzel. Aside from a few nods to other fairy tale (magical tablecloths and seven-league boots), this work has a much larger scope. Rapunzel is a story about one girl breaking free of her imprisonment. The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre is a story about an entire people breaking free from slavery and oppression.

Perry grows up as part of the ruling class, valuing physical strength, bravery and believing conquest through arms is right. She genuinely loves her Latki mother and father and never really bothers to question their place in the world. When she finds out she is Bamarre she has to worry immediately about whether her parents will still love her. She has to acclimatize to being Bamarre when she is reunited with her birth parents and for a while she never feels accepted by either side. She likes poetry too much to be a true Latki, but she is too forceful to truly be Bamarre. Her identity is completely in question and she is torn.

This is a very strong addition to Gail Carson Levine’s bibliography. The story has some great themes about identity and belonging and is a wonderful read.

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Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau

dividing-eden

4 out of 5 stars

I received an ARC of this work.

Carys and Andreus are twin royalty to the Eden throne. Since their father and elder brother are healthy, they will not be taking the throne anytime soon. They are both okay with that as one suffers from a chronic condition that looks a lot like asthma (and the kingdom is at war, which means kings have to appear strong) and the other has a crippling poppy addiction. Then the king and heir apparent are killed and the queen goes crazy. Carys and Andreus are now in direct competition for the throne. The Elder ministers set up a series of tasks to test the willingness of the new heirs to do whatever it takes to seize power. The twins, who have always been loyal to each other, now find themselves fighting for their lives and the good of their kingdom.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. This is the second time Joelle Charbonneau has written a series that is concerned with life and death competition between characters and she does both the political maneuvering and emotional responses very well. Her books are well-paced and hard to put down.

It was fascinating watching both Cerys and Andreus change throughout the competition. They start out being virtually the only person the other can trust, but within days of the trials starting, they are at each other’s throats. The ministers and courtiers all start manipulating the twins and each other in a desperate grab for influence and no one knows whom they can trust.

This book is very quickly paced and exciting. The relationships are complex and the plot keeps you guessing. Definitely a must-read.