by Cayla Kluver
For a hundred years, the lands of Hytanica and Cokyri had been at war. One day, the sky turned blood red and the Cokrian forces disappeared. And so did the first newborn boy. As long as the sky bled, baby boys disappeared. When the sky finally cleared, forty-nine boys had been kidnapped by the Cokyrians. Forty-eight bodies soon appears outside the walls and the Cokyrians were apparently gone for good.
Sixteen years later, as Princess Alera turns seventeen years old, her homeland is expecting her to marry the man who will become the next king shortly after their wedding. Her father has his preference, but Alera can't stand the man. Unfortunately, time is ticking and she has few options.
When a Cokyrian boy shows up who appears to be the forty-ninth kidnapped Hytanican boy, Alera's world flips upside-down and her prospects definitely change. But not everyone thinks this boy can be trusted.
Final thoughts: Blech. This is written so poorly! It COULD be good, but it spends so much time talking about what people are wearing and how their hair is done. The writing is stilted and has no flow. It seems formulaic and childish. For example, "The lovely Lady Hauna... with her demure seventeen-year-old daughters... the sensible Lady Edora had accompanied her vivacious daughter Kalem... the exceedingly proper... brought easily excited... and bubbly Semari had come with the sedate Baroness Alantonya." One long sentence filled with adjective after adjective about person after person. Ugh.
Alera's primary suitor is described throughout much of the book as being cruel, overbearing, somewhat violent, condescending, and arrogant, but everyone agrees that he would be a great king. What?!?!?! And the land of Hytanica is constantly referred to as being chauvinistic, that women are inferior to men in all things and must defer to men at all times, along with constant references to how Alera can't be left alone with boys her age because it was inappropriate. The book itself ended unsatisfactorily. It wasn't a clean break (for yet another trilogy), but it had more of a sputtering finish. Maybe it was supposed to be a cliffhanger, but it just kind of... ended. And I really don't care how the story ends. There are just too many problems with this; I don't plan on reading the sequels.