They came for her brother in the darkness of the night, sweeped him away and left her stumbling along the streets. Now, Laia has to seek help from rebels who promise to free her brother if she spies on the brutal and heartless headmaster of Blackcliff Academy, the training school for lethal soldiers called Masks. Elias wants to get out of the hell they call the Academy. Elias and Laia must work together to put an end to the injustice and brutality.
It totally lived up to the hype. It was so unpredictable and I kept catching my breath, not wanting to know what horrors awaited, but couldn’t not turn the pages. I flew through the book and it was captivating. The world-building was awesome and the writing was just as great. It really pulled me, from the very start. It was gripping and every bit as action-packed as I had hoped it to be. There was a sort of urgency to it, and I might be imagining it but it felt so frantic, in a good way, and I was on the edge of my seat, wondering what would happen to the characters and hoping my favourite ones, Elias and Laia would be alright.
Elias is a great character and is very relatable. He is expected to be ruthless and brutal, but inside he is soft and can’t bear having to pretend to be someone he’s not. He was planning to escape from Blackcliff Academy, his things packed and ready in the city’s underground tunnels, but he is forced to stay when he is chosen to be an Aspirant, one of the four people who must compete in a lethal competition to become Emperor.
Laia isn’t one of those really brave girls who can kick ass or are trained in the use of deadly weapons. She had her shortcomings but overall, she has a strong will to do what she can and save her brother from execution and that keeps her going. Her determination to do anything, anything makes her just as lethal as a sword-yielding soldier.
The story itself was very unpredictable and I felt like I couldn’t stop reading it because I just had to know what happens to Laia and Elias. They were both very strong characters, in depth and development but also in their personalities. Of course, they did falter and there were times when they weren’t at their best, but I liked their spirit and the determination they had in them.
So many love triangles. Was it really necessary to have both Elias and Laia like two people? They like each other, but they also have feelings for their other friends. This was the only part of the story that ventured off topic, but otherwise I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to everyone.
“There are two kinds of guilt. The kind that’s a burden and the kind that gives you purpose. Let your guilt be your fuel. Let it remind you of who you want to be. Draw a line in your mind. Never cross it again. You have a soul. It’s damaged but it’s there. Don’t let them take it from you.”
Elias and Helene have always had each other’s back, through good times and rough times. Darin and Laia are the closest siblings and he shelters her from the bad in the world. This song radiates their determination and shows their bond. Nobody can drag them down, not the Empire, and not their bloody rules.
Would I recommend?— Yes
A slightly different version of this can be found here.