Monday, March 18, 2019

Review: Rule by Ellen Goodlett

Rule by Ellen Goodlett
Rule (Rule #1)
By Ellen Goodlett
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

To Sum It Up: Zofi, Akeylah, and Florencia are strangers to each other until King Andros of Kolonya summons them all to court. Upon their arrival, they learn that the ailing king is their father, and they are all potential heirs to his throne. Each sister, however, carries an explosive secret that, if discovered, could result in execution. When the girls start receiving threatening messages, it seems that someone already knows what they’re hiding, and the sisters must band together to find their blackmailer.

Review: It’s been a while since a fantasy blew me away, and unfortunately, Rule left me less than awed. The premise sounds promising: three young women who would otherwise continue leading disparate lives suddenly discover that they’re daughters of the ailing king. Only one of them can inherit his crown, and each sister is hiding a secret that could get her executed. Zofi, Akeylah, and Florencia are all naturally wary of each other since only one of them can rule Kolonya, but the sisters may have no choice but to work together after all three begin receiving messages threatening to expose their secrets.

My biggest issue with the book was how thinly sketched everything was: the plot, the characters, and especially the world building. War figures heavily in Kolonya’s past and present, but the details are sparse and delivered through telling instead of showing. Despite a magic system based on tithing one’s blood to temporarily gain enhanced abilities, there isn’t much of a fantasy feel here. The story focuses more on the girls’ efforts to stop their blackmailer amidst a treacherous court where no one can be trusted.

The book is also repetitive, as we’re constantly reminded that the girls must do whatever it takes to keep their secrets safe, even from each other. A plot point that could have used some hashing out instead of belaboring the secrets thing was the big reveal of the sisters’ paternity. All three accept the news that their father is the king with relative ease. The girls then move swiftly on to resuming their worries over what they’re hiding.

As much as I’d hoped that Rule would be an engrossing fantasy read, it spent too much time on its non-fantasy plot as well as went down the YA trope road with some insta-love and a potential love triangle. I considered DNF-ing this, but there was something about the pacing that still made Rule compulsive to read. As much as I’d also hoped that there would be some resolution to the girls’ blackmail situation, alas the book ended on a giant cliffhanger which I’m not invested enough in to see the outcome of in a sequel.

All in All: Rule has some really good pacing, which spurred me on to read what otherwise would have been a DNF. The other aspects of the book, however, are not as strong. The plot is all about the sisters keeping their misdeeds hidden in a world that isn’t fully fleshed out.


  1. When I read the premise, I immediately thought - "Pretty Little Liars with magic". I also have to say that the names of the characters sound pretty cool.

    1. I've seen this compared quite a bit to Pretty Little Liars, which I'm sad to admit I haven't read, lol. The characters here are definitely hiding some big secrets!


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