Every year for the past fifty-four years, the residents of Pinsbury Port receive a mysterious letter inviting all eligible-aged boys to compete for an esteemed scholarship to the all-male Stemwick University. Every year, the poorer residents look to see that their names are on the list. The wealthier look to see how likely their sons are to survive. And Rhen Tellur opens it to see if she can derive which substances the ink and parchment are created from, using her father’s microscope.
In the province of Caldon, where women are trained in wifely duties and men are encouraged into collegiate education, sixteen-year-old Rhen Tellur wants nothing more than to become a scientist. As the poor of her seaside town fall prey to a deadly disease, she and her father work desperately to find a cure. But when her Mum succumbs to it as well? Rhen decides to take the future into her own hands—through the annual all-male scholarship competition.
With her cousin, Seleni, by her side, the girls don disguises and enter Mr. Holm’s labyrinth, to best the boys and claim the scholarship prize. Except not everyone’s ready for a girl who doesn’t know her place. And not everyone survives the maze.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Got to say that I’m pleasantly surprised by this book. It was quite good actually and I really liked the heroine, Rhen and the whole concept of the story. When I first read the blurb my first though was that the story was going to be something similar to The Hunger Games and there was some resemblance to it, with the game and the oppression, but not as much as I thought it would be. In the end that was a huge plus, since otherwise I think the plot would be a bit boring to read.
Aside from that the plot is much more focused on Rhen, her mother’s sickness and how to find a cure to save her. In the end the only hope for Rhen to save her mother is by breaking tradition and entering a game to win a scholarship that would later on give her the means to create said cure.
The romance aspect of the story was all right, but to me it didn’t feel like it was the center of the story. Which made the story better for me, as a reader. Lute was a cute character and I really grew to like him, sadly I can’t say the same for Vincent. Now, he was just a terrible boy and he deserved everything that came his way. Beside those two I also was quite fond of Rhen’s counsin, Seleni and Mr. Holm. To me, Seleni felt like Rhen’s other half. Both go though thick and thin together, no matter the consequences. I really loved that. They were more like real sisters than cousins. And as for Mr. Holm, let’s just say that there is more to this character than meets the eye. This character brings all the elements of magic with him.
Last but not least, is my favourite character and that obviously has to be Rhen. She was such a strong yet gentle character that one couldn’t help but fall in love with. Her mind preceded her time and it was so great to see a girl in those times breaking the norm. She stood up for herself and her loved ones and if she had to break a few rules, so be it. You could say she was the black sheep of the society and she was at the same time also, at least for me, the beginning of a new era where woman’s rights would exist and be heard.
All in all, this is a great story with strong characters and a great plot. It’s also a quick read, so why not give it a chance…