author: Kelly Coon
series: Gravemaidens #1
published: 29 October 2019
publisher: Delacorte Press
genre(s): fantasy, historical
buy/shelve it: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | BookBub | Goodreads
The start of a fierce fantasy duology about three maidens who are chosen for their land's greatest honor...and one girl determined to save her sister from the grave.
In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame.
When Alu's ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honor. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her.
But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is—a death sentence.
Desperate to save her sister, Kammani schemes her way into the palace to heal the ruler. There she discovers more danger lurking in the sand-stone corridors than she could have ever imagined and that her own life—and heart—are at stake. But Kammani will stop at nothing to dig up the palace’s buried secrets even if it means sacrificing everything…including herself.
Gravemaidens is the first in a historical fantasy duology set in ancient Sumer. It is a world in which tradition is deeply embedded into the very fabric of society, amd with it, the corruption of power.
When the ruler dies in this world, three maidens are chosen to voyage with him into the Netherworld, to become queens in the next life. This is considered to be of the highest honor, although it too is fraught with corruption. For those on the fringes of society, it can be a boon for the honor of a family. But sometimes maidens are chosen based on the wealth of their families, who frequently offer riches for the honor of their daughter’s choosing. But Kammami, whose sister has been chosen, soon discovers that not everything is as it seems, or should be. And this knowledge puts her in great danger.
Gravemaidens is definitely a page-turner, with good pacing that keeps a reader engrossed in the story. The world building was so well done that I felt as if I were present. And I definitely enjoyed the characters, the good and the bad.
However, I didn’t love parts of Kammami’s story. There were moments when I felt like she jumped to conclusions without much evidence. As an intelligent woman, that seemed out of character for her. She made great leaps of assumption sometimes that seemed weak at best sometimes. On top of that, while I appreciated the mystery aspects to it, it was very obvious from early on “whodunit.” I wish there had been a little more surprise to that.
But all of that being said, I did enjoy the book and am looking forward to Warmaidens, coming December 2020. If you like a high-stakes, historical fantasy with a richly built world, give Gravemaidens a try!
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2020 PopSugar Reading Challenge