Reviewing this book is tricky, since much of the pleasure gained in reading it is knowing as little as possible about what is going to happen. In a nutshell: 16-year-old Digger is a thief in the city of Gerse. She’s made a living, ever since she ran away from the convent at age 11, stealing things for people. It’s been a good way to survive, especially in the increasingly intolerant and restrictive atmosphere of the capital city. Except, this time, the job went horribly wrong. The authorities were waiting, and Digger just barely escaped with her life. Twenty-four hours later, disguised, she falls in with a bunch of nobles and ends up in a mountain retreat with them, where she finds that nothing is quite as it seems, especially since she’s being blackmailed to find out all the secrets.
It’s a complex world Bunce has created, fascinating in its religion and politics. It’s vaguely historical, roughly based on the European Renaissance. Aware of that, I could see the parallels, but Bunce also takes the politics and religion in different and interesting ways. Honestly, I would have been captivated if the book had only been about the religion and politics. She reveals things slowly, peeling back layer by layer, which serves to keep you guessing and wondering and hoping. But there is more than that: the characters, especially Digger, are fascinating. (Okay, it helps that I’m half in love with one of the men, yet again.) Like the religion and politics of the world, they are fairly complex; you can sense that even the stereotypical ones are hiding some sort of secret. Maybe it won’t be revealed in this book, but it’s there, lurking under the surface.
It’s the first in a series (I hope; there’s at least sequel due out), and that’s something I can’t wait to sink my teeth into.
Rated: Mild, for violence.