by Joelle Charbonneau
Content Rating: PG- 13. Substance abuse is listed on Book Trigger Warning. There is also attempted murder, abuse, violent death and mutilation.
Twins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the throne, the future of the kingdom was secure.
But appearances—and rivals—can be deceiving. When Eden’s king and crown prince are killed by assassins, Eden desperately needs a monarch, but the line of succession is no longer clear. With a ruling council scheming to gain power, Carys and Andreus are faced with only one option—to take part in a Trial of Succession that will determine which one of them is worthy of ruling the kingdom.
As sister and brother, Carys and Andreus have always kept each other safe—from their secrets, from the court, and from the monsters lurking in the mountains beyond the kingdom’s wall. But the Trial of Succession will test the bonds of trust and family.
With their country and their hearts divided, Carys and Andreus will discover exactly what each will do to win the crown. How long before suspicion takes hold and the thirst for power leads to the ultimate betrayal?
This book has me like…
And there is absolutely no way that I can write a spoiler free review. So stop here if you don’t want spoilers knowing I loved the book, the setting, the characters, the plot.
Okay, you ready? Spoilers ahead.
Dividing Eden has one of the most interesting settings I’ve encountered in a long time. It seems at first like your typical late-mediaeval European-esque setup. But then… electricity… ? Two things: monsters that don’t like light and wind generated electric lights are integral to the story.
And about those monsters the Xhelozi, so mysterious. What are they? Where do they come from? Why are they terrorizing Eden? I got some vibes like the monsters from The Gilded Ones. There’s definitely something off about these monsters and why they seem to congregate around the royal tomb.
Garden City is protected as long as the winds blow and the windmills turn, keeping the lights on.
The winds are aided by a Seer. A person who can call the winds and read the future in the stars. Which brings us to Imogen the current seer to the Royal family. Imogen is a character I loved to hate. She is such a snake but a mysterious one. We don’t find out her back story or get a big reveal. Just bits and pieces of her motivation. I hope we find out where she truly came from in the second book. (Waiting for the hold from my library.)
Imogen and Andreus’ “love” story is an interesting one. I say that because it’s so twisted up and backwards. In the end you wonder who was seducing whom. In preparing this review, I took a look at what others thought over on Goodreads and I see a lot of people DNF’d the book – they couldn’t stand Andreus and his womanizing, especially relationship with Imogen, because at the beginning of the book she’s engaged to his brother.
Truth is Imogen catfished them all.
Like wow! She was playing all the sides and so expertly twisting all the players. In a court full of intrigue and people playing mind games she was an expert. She played the court and especially the royal family like they were amateurs. I really love a multi-dimensional villain and I just want to know more… WHO WAS IMOGEN REALLY!?!???
I haven’t even made it to some of the other interesting characters. Lord Garret or Errik for example. Both of whom you don’t really trust, but you WANT to trust them. You want Carys to be able to trust them. There are hints at deeper motives for both, just enough to wet the appetite. Errik is one of those dark and mysterious characters who knows much more than he lets on. Lord Garret is a childhood friend, dragged into the drama in such a way that Carys can’t trust him. He’s a pawn, but he knows he’s being used and doesn’t like it. However you just can’t quite trust his intentions when he joins Carys at the end. The book has you asking if his motives are really pure or is he still playing a game for the throne.
Garret and Errik are both strong possibilities for love interests for Carys. It remains to be seen which she’ll choose.
This review is getting super long, but I have so many thoughts about this book… The fact that asthma is considered a curse. If Andreus has an attack in public his hidden curse will be know and he will loose rights as a member of the Royal family. Which is one of the weirdest setups for a fantasy story I’ve ever heard of.
I also just want to mention the addiction angle. The Queens “tea” and Carys’s fixation on the red bottle. Hinting at the fact that their family may be the ones with true gifts, since both Carys and the Queen seem to be suppressing something and it seems it’s really the Queen who has the gift of foresight that the Seer is supposed to have.
Also the depictions of addiction are really well done and not cliche. From all sides, something an author will get the addicted side right, and others will get the family right. I feel this one got it all right. Each character has a unique and believable mindset when it comes to the magic red bottle.
Ugh, here I am like 800 word into it and I haven’t even gotten to the twin angle yet, or my thoughts on Carys sacrificing herself time and again to keep Andreus’ curse a secret. The fact that she puts herself into situations where she knows she’ll get WHIPPED as a consequence to hide her brothers “curse” just makes his betrayal (prodded on by Imogen) that much worse. I can’t keep writing this forever though. So…
I seem to be a sucker for succession fantasy, and this one fires at all levels. Plenty of court intrigue, but without getting boring or slowed down by it. Any book that keeps you thinking long after you read it is a good book. This book was excellent.
If you need me I’ll be scouting out Discord and Twitter to see if anyone is talking about this book because I think I need support group.
"White was the color of purity. Black was the color of death. Purple the color of nobility. Her father and brother were draped in all three colors today..." Dividing Eden