You know when you’re reading a book and you can see where the story is going and who is the villain and who is the hero before the heroine does and you just want to scream at her to wake up and pay attention! That was me with this book. Despite this, I flew through reading it. It was exactly the distraction I needed after a few tough books. Mare Barrow has no skills besides pick pocketing and in this world that means when she turns 18, she’ll be conscripted to the war front. She is a Red, born with red blood and is forced to serve and work for the Silvers, those born with silver blood and who have extra powers. When her best friend loses his job and will be sent to war, she tries to save him. This leads to her finding out she’s more than red. She has powers, too. Silvers can’t let her walk away after this discovery so they try to cover it up and force her to live with them and marry one of the princes. That doesn’t sound like such a punishment but she’s basically their prisoner whose life is at their whim. At the same time, a rebellion is starting to take hold and Mare wants to be a part of it. The more she becomes involved with the Silvers and the rebellion things get complicated. She’s playing a game she doesn’t know the rules to and anyone can betray anyone.
Mare is strong but full of vulnerability. She doesn’t have skills like her sister and jobs are scarce so she does what she can to help out her family, steal. Her family isn’t exactly happy about it since her sister has a job and is their ticket out of poverty. It’s hard to compete against. She is loyal, almost to a fault. If she has a fault is that she is so focused on her family and friends and what she sees as injustices that she fails to see the bigger picture and it gets her into trouble. Her suitors are abundant. First their is Kilorn, her friend that she will do anything to save. Prince Cal, the perfect prince and Prince Maven, her betrothed. Mare is one of those YA heroines that doesn’t think she’s pretty but has guys falling all over her. I find this kind of annoying. We’ve been there and down that but it does actually make sense here. At least with her relationship with the Princes it’s not so much she thinks they wouldn’t fall for her because of how she looks but that she is beneath them. As for Kilorn, her loyalty and feelings of having to take care of him blinds her to his feelings for her which is pretty obvious for the reader.
As I said at the beginning, I knew that Mare was being played by some of the characters but despite that I kept wanting to read to see how it plays out. It’s paced well, the characters are interesting and I do look forward to the sequel.