Hello humans! Today I’m reviewing Destiny Soria’s Beneath the Citadel, a YA fantasy releasing on the 9th of October. This book had a lot of promise and some interesting ideas, but let’s see how it went…
In the city of Eldra, people are ruled by ancient prophecies. For centuries, the high council has stayed in power by virtue of the prophecies of the elder seers. After the last infallible prophecy came to pass, growing unrest led to murders and an eventual rebellion that raged for more than a decade.
In the present day, Cassa, the orphaned daughter of rebels, is determined to fight back against the high council, which governs Eldra from behind the walls of the citadel. Her only allies are no-nonsense Alys, easygoing Evander, and perpetually underestimated Newt, and Cassa struggles to come to terms with the legacy of rebellion her dead parents have left her — and the fear that she may be inadequate to shoulder the burden. But by the time Cassa and her friends uncover the mystery of the final infallible prophecy, it may be too late to save the city — or themselves.
This book explores some interesting themes, many of which are themes that tend to resonate with me, as someone with Alzheimer’s in the family, any story that plays with the idea of memory tends to hit me right in the feelings. In this case, there are people who can take memories, and also give them to others, this leads to some interesting plot twists and reveals throughout the story. I’m not sure the metaphysics of how this worked were laid out in enough detail for me to feel like I truly understood it, which meant that those moments of revelation didn’t pack quite so much of a punch. Nonetheless, it was an interesting idea, and when tied in with the notion of prophecy was certainly powerful.
This book is in multiple POV, the majority of the action focussing on Cassa, unsurprising really, but the other characters do get a look in. I particularly enjoyed the chapters that had time jumps, scattered throughout the book. They added another dimension and helped to fill in the backstory without feeling too much of a ‘tell’ rather than a ‘show’. One of the reasons I don’t think this book worked as well as it could have done is that the characters didn’t really have distinct enough voices. They had separate backstories and characteristics, but the writing didn’t shift enough within each chapter to feel like you were reading a different person. This may have been in part because I had just read Light Years which does multiple POV very well, but I would have liked more differentiation between characters.
The main reason I don’t think this book resonated with me particularly was that it didn’t feel like a new story. While there were some interesting ideas and elements of worldbuilding in there, such as the idea of blood bonds or the reliance on prophecy, the description isn’t quite rich enough for you to fully immerse yourself in that world and I was left feeling that something was a little lacking.
That isn’t to say that this is not an entertaining book. It has some great moments of action and I liked the story for the most part. It also has a bisexual character which is just wonderful and an example of two characters who break up amicably and remain friends. Both of these things are great things to have in a story, especially in YA fantasy as opposed to contemporary. I also think this would make a very good film or tv series or something, but I think that’s because it was the visual that I was missing out on and a film would allow me to have that. I very rarely feel that a book should be longer than it is, but in this case, a little more space for description and worldbuilding would have been wonderful.
As I say, this is by no means a bad book, but it is a book that could have done more with the ideas it contained. If you enjoy YA fantasy and you’d like to read something that toys with memory and also has a lot of fun prison break moments (I do like a good prison break) then I think you would enjoy Beneath the Citadel.
My rating: 3/5 stars
I received a free digital advanced review copy of this book from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
What say you? Will you be reading Beneath the Citadel? Let me know in the comments below!