I love books with sister relationships, or any sibling relationship for that matter. So of course, Rule by Ellen Goodlett caught my eye because not only is it about three sisters but it’s about three sisters that are just learning they are sisters and possible heirs to the throne. Shut up and take my library card number!
When the heir to the throne of Kolonya is murdered and the King learns he is dying, he summons three girls—Zofi, Akeylah, and Ren—to his palace. There, he reveals to them and the kingdom that they are his illegitimate daughters. Now, one of them must become the new heir and rule in his stead. But all three girls harbor deadly secrets that could ruin any chances they have of ruling and someone knows what they’ve done…
Despite how much I liked the way the three sisters were portrayed in this book and how over the course of the story they stopped seeing each other as the enemy and more as friends, Rule didn’t grip me as I hoped it would.
First, despite having an awesomesauce magic system and fun world-building, the book mainly focuses on politics and conversations between characters. There are glimpses of action-packed scenes, but most of those weren’t as exciting as I was hoping for a YA fantasy story. This is definitely a character driven novel, which made the pacing of the book a bit slow.
The story is also repetitive. Each chapter switches between the three sisters and each one is harboring a deadly secret. Each girl is threatened by a mysterious person about said secret. And each one is trying to figure out who is blackmailing them all the while becoming the prominent choice for heir. This pattern bogged down the story for me.
In addition, the story leaned toward the predictable. It wasn’t hard to figure out what was off about certain characters from the first time they appeared. This wasn’t always a bad thing because the story was still intriguing and kept my interest, but I was hoping for something a bit more exciting.
Last, the book ended abruptly, which was jarring. It’s under 400 pages, so I feel that it could have been longer and wrapped up the plot in a single book, instead of dragging it into a duology. I’ve noticed a lot of recent YA fantasy books have been shorter. I don’t know if this is a publishing thing to sell more books, but I think this could have benefited from a longer page length. Maybe it could have expanded further on the wack world-building or given more depth to each of the sisters.
Rule is not a bad book, despite how this review may sound. I just think it could have been better. I have high hopes that future books by Ellen Goodlett will reach that potential.