The Pledge by Kimberly Derting.
I absolutely did NOT choose to read this book because I wanted this above and beyond lickable cover smeared across my blog page – okay, perhaps I did, but happy days, the contents of the book turned out to be just as delicious so I win.
I won’t go into too much detail about the plot because it does get fairly complex, but fear not, Kimberly Derting fleshes out her world and characters to perfection, creating a detailed map that ensures you don’t get lost. There’s no way I can emulate that, not with a meagre four hundred words… it’ll be safer for everyone if I don’t even try.
The general gist… Told from multiple points of view (first and third person) this is a story about a society under threat from rebel forces who oppose the oppressive regime forced upon them by the ailing Queen Sabara. Short of a young, female heir to succeed her on the throne and regain control – no male rulers allowed in this society – the pressure is mounting on Sabara to track down the rebels and put an end to their campaign, before they can put an end to her.
The action takes place in a city called Ludania, a city divided by class. From poorest to wealthiest we have The Serving class, The Vendors and The Counsel class. As well as money, cementing the divide between classes is a language barrier. A universal dialect known as Englaise is spoken by all, but the different classes also have their own dialect and it is punishable by death to make eye contact with someone of a higher class when they’re talking to you in their own tongue.
Main character Charlaina (Charlie to her friends) is a vendor living in the city with her family and carrying around a hefty secret that could get her into some serious trouble. In a society constantly under threat of attack from rebel forces, where your own family would shop you to the authorities for a loaf of bread, secrets are as common as muck and it’s not long before Charlie discovers that no one and nothing is what is seems… least of all her.
Underpinned by a love story and a sprinkling of magic The Pledge is a fantastic read with some truly original concepts. Anxiously awaiting the sequel.