I received an ARC of Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria from Abrams Kids in exchange for an honest review! I was immediately attracted to the amazing book cover, and it’s spooky atmosphere. The premise sounded pretty familiar for YA Fantasy, so I went in hoping for a new world to immerse myself in. Though I did initially enjoy the plotting and characters, the book because somewhat repetitive and convoluted. Read on to learn more!
Click here for the Synopsis!
In the city of Eldra, people are ruled by ancient prophecies. For centuries, the high council has stayed in power by virtue of the prophecies of the elder seers. After the last infallible prophecy came to pass, growing unrest led to murders and an eventual rebellion that raged for more than a decade.
In the present day, Cassa, the orphaned daughter of rebels, is determined to fight back against the high council, which governs Eldra from behind the walls of the citadel. Her only allies are no-nonsense Alys, easygoing Evander, and perpetually underestimated Newt, and Cassa struggles to come to terms with the legacy of rebellion her dead parents have left her — and the fear that she may be inadequate to shoulder the burden. But by the time Cassa and her friends uncover the mystery of the final infallible prophecy, it may be too late to save the city — or themselves.
Beneath the Citadel begins in the thick of a prison break. The action throughout the book is very consistent, though I did feel that some scenarios were reused a few times too many. In general, I felt that the book was too long and suffered from repetitive plotting. Though the characters worked together a lot initially, some outside forces pulled the group apart. This rendered many group decisions irrelevant. There’s a constant philosophical battle between free will and predestination in the book. At first, this was interesting to me, but as events go on it causes consistency problems. There were a number of those!
There is some elemental magic in the book, along with clairvoyant abilities like stealing memories. These aspects also led to consistency issues. The abilities in the book were never defined or described enough for me to really understand their limitations. When people manipulated memories, sometimes it would cause pain, some people could fight against it, some people would pass out. It wasn’t clear to me why the memory work had the effects it did.
One of the most refreshing aspects of this book was the fight between an old established political order mostly controlled by aged men and a group of teenage rebels. This was very timely, and yet again, I enjoyed it in the first 100 pages or so. Later, it felt like the teens were unwillingly giving into manipulation, and were unable to really choose their path. Without giving any spoilers, I was also not a fan of that ending.
Unfortunately, I felt that Beneath the Citadel tried too hard to be different, but presented a lot of the same ideas as other popular YA Fantasy. There was minimal romance that felt superficial and unnecessary. The abilities of those in power and the rebels were unpredictable and ill-defined. A number of narrative threads weren’t tied up and just got in the way of the story. For these reasons I didn’t particularly enjoy the book, but if you are a die-hard fan of YA Fantasy you may find something to love.