So I requested an ARC of this book back in July and never got a response, so I figured I wouldn’t get the book and would just get it from the library when it came out and moved on with my life and honestly forgot I even requested this book. Fast forward to October, when there’s a package from Hachette on my doorstep… and it was a beautiful shiny finished copy of this book!!!!! I was dying in school but I just finished finals so I’m excited to finally share my review!! This is my first time ever getting a finished copy so aslfjskdlfjaksdfs!! Also this is literally only the 5th hardcover book I own and it looks so beautiful and I’m just… salfkjsldf
Thank you so very much to Hachette/Little Brown Books for Young Readers for this amazing gift!!
Title // Beyond the Ruby Veil
Author // Mara Fitzgerald
Publisher // Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date // October 13, 2020
Synopsis // Cunning and unapologetic, Emanuela Ragno is a socialite who plays by her own rules. In her most ambitious move yet, she’s about to marry Alessandro Morandi, her childhood best friend and the heir to the wealthiest house in Occhia. Emanuela doesn’t care that she and her groom are both gay, because she doesn’t want a love match. She wants power, and through Ale, she’ll have it all.
But Emanuela has a secret that could shatter her plans. In her city of Occhia, the only source of water is the watercrea, a mysterious being who uses magic to make water from blood. When their first bruise-like omen appears on their skin, all Occhians must surrender themselves to the watercrea to be drained of life. Everyone throughout history has obeyed this law for the greater good. Everyone except Emanuela. She’s kept the tiny omen on her hip out of sight for years.
When the watercrea exposes Emanuela during her wedding ceremony and takes her to be sacrificed, Emanuela fights back…and kills her. Before everyone in Occhia dies of thirst, Emanuela and Ale must travel through the mysterious, blood-red veil that surrounds their city to uncover the source of the watercrea’s power and save their people—no matter what it takes.
My Rating: ★★★★☆ (3.5)
This book is pitched as a dark gothic bloody queer YA fantasy and that’s pretty accurate. So it’s on me for not realizing just how dark this was going to be ahaha.
I want to start by saying this book was very, very, very dark and bloody, and I highly recommend checking out the complete trigger warnings on the author’s website (she goes into specifics on which chapters are especially gruesome!) I like darker books and yet this shocked me and there were a few paragraphs that I skimmed or skipped because… I was not all about that bloody life lmao. I’m honestly a little surprised this is still YA with how dark it is. But that’s totally on me, and if you’re less wimpy than me, I know you’ll love the blood!! (lol)
This book gave off a really cool creepy atmospheric gothic almost horror vibe. I mean, it opens up with the main character putting on a black dress with spiderweb lace for her wedding (white, meanwhile, is the color of death), and that is pretty much my October aesthetic haha. The dark magic is really cool; the people literally get their water from blood, and, as the name implies, there’s no blue sky but rather a ruby veil that encases them all.
The main character, Emanuela, is not a good or likable person at all. I would call her morally grey but honestly she’s more like straight up antagonist; she thinks she’s always right and she’s going to save everyone, but… pretty much everyone else knows she isn’t and the whole time my goody two shoes self was screaming stop! But at the same time I was drawn in, interested and kind of horrified yet totally unable to look away to see what horrible thing she does next, and transfixed at how she manages to justify every awful thing she does.
But at the same time, morally grey protagonists can be kind of hit or miss for me, and in this case, my intense dislike of Emanuela led to me not liking this book as much as I might have. She’s selfish, narcissistic, and apathetic, and does some truly awful things without caring, or even relishing the cruel acts she does. Honestly, for parts of the book I couldn’t stand her, and wondered if I would enjoy this book a lot more if it was told from the perspective of another character. But at the same time she really is compelling, and I think if you’re the type of person who really enjoys morally grey characters or villain stories, you might really love reading from her perspective.
At less that 300 pages, this book was short and I just flew through it. The writing style was really gripping, and there was nonstop action, so it was easy to turn the pages. The whole world is so strange and creepy and shrouded in mystery that I was really invested in it and figuring out just what the heck was going on.
There’s pretty much no romance in this book, but there’s a sapphic slow burn enemies to lovers relationship hinted at that will probably be amazing in the sequel, so there’s that to look forward to! Also both the main characters are queer (Emanuela is lesbian and unapologetically so, and her best friend and fiancé Ale is gay)!. The author claimed this book is chaotic lesbians burning down the world and I can verify this book is 100% that, in the best way.
Anyways, I’m giving this 3.5 stars, which I consider to be a good rating, and it’s really a case of it’s not you, it’s me, at the book!. It was an incredible book, and if I wasn’t such a wimp about blood and gore and liked unlikable protagonists more it probably could have been 4 or 5 stars! As long as you think you can handle it, I definitely recommend!
Do you like unlikable characters? Are you into dark books? Have you read this book or do you want to? I’d love to chat in the comments below!