When Amaya rescues a mysterious stranger from drowning, she fears her rash actions have earned her a longer sentence on the debtor ship where she’s been held captive for years. Instead, the man she saved offers her unimaginable riches and a new identity, setting Amaya on a perilous course through the coastal city-state of Moray, where old-world opulence and desperate gamblers collide.
Amaya wants one thing: revenge against the man who ruined her family and stole the life she once had. But the more entangled she becomes in this game of deception—and as her path intertwines with the son of the man she’s plotting to bring down—the more she uncovers about the truth of her past. And the more she realizes she must trust no one…
Packed with high-stakes adventure, romance, and dueling identities, this gender-swapped retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo is the first novel in an epic YA fantasy duology, perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Sabaa Tahir, and Leigh Bardugo.
I would like to thank both Disney-Hyperion and Netgalley for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Wow, what an incredible read! Let’s start with the fact that I have never read Count of Monte Cristo or anything written by Tara Sim. Probably going to change that.
“Revenge. It was a simple word hiding a bigger meaning, a layer of glitter over grit, a silk dress over a scarred and battered body. It was a word that pumped through her blood and set the stars on fire.”
I came for the revenge but stayed for the stunning characters. I fell in love with Amaya and Cayo both of which are two broken and morally grey characters. Watching these two navigate through the twisted politics and broken society was heartbreaking and inspiring. Both have endured a great deal of trauma and loss and choose to deal with it in less than healthy ways. Amaya seeks revenge. Cayo turns to gambling. The story takes the reader and these characters on wild and twisted journey of growth. And maybe a bit of revenge.
“I’m beginning to learn the only way to move forward is by confronting the mistakes of your past, otherwise history will just repeat itself, and everything falls apart again.”
Tara Sim did an amazing job of fleshing out the characters. Not only was I invested in the two main characters but the whole cast of side characters were endearing as well. Especially loved The Water Bugs. I also was here for Deadshot and Avi and hope to see more of them in the second novel.
“It’s a tricky thing, water…if you don’t know how to navigate it, it can take everything from you.”
The plot and pacing kept me engrossed in the story. This is written with a dual perspective alternating between Amaya and Cayo. The split narration gave the reader just enough information from each side to keep them guessing. The plot is definitely focused on the politics and deception rather than action. I loved this but I could see some people finding it boring at times. I truly have no idea how I am going to wait so long for the second novel!!
➢Things I liked:
The atmosphere of the port city was a win for me. I absolutely felt like I was there breathing in the salty ocean air and getting into some trouble on Diamond street. The city Moray had very New Orlean vibes for me but in a fantasy setting. The plot as I mentioned was incredible (except the end) It was full of twists and turns and kept me on the edge of my seat. I also have to mention the brilliant amount of diversity in this book and the way issues of addiction and loss are handled.
“Every man carries his sins a different way.”
I also LOVED how Tara Sim used fictional quotes from plays and literature of this world as the chapter headers. It added a fun element of world building.
➢Things I didn’t like:
Towards the end the plot (kind of) failed me. Things “conveniently” fell into place too quickly in order to wrap situations up fast. That is the only reason I gave this four stars over five. It was an excellent read for ninety percent of the book.
➢Would I recommend this book to a friend:
If you love retellings, revenge plot, port cities, and politics, this is a book for you!!