Beyond the Ruby Veil

Little, Brown. Oct. 2020. 288p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781368052139.
Gr 8 Up–Emanuela Ragno is determined to save Occhia, no matter how much blood she must wade through to do it. Unapologetically ambitious, she’s the perfect match for her best friend Alessandro, heir to the richest and most powerful family in the city. Surrounded by a red veil of magic, Occhia is ruled by the “watercrea:” the mysterious immortal who turns blood into the city’s only source of water—blood she gets from citizens who have “omens” appear on their skin, marks which spread rapidly before the person dies. When the watercrea arrests Emanuela at her wedding for an omen she kept secret, Emanuela is not a willing sacrifice. She kills the watercrea and in her escape discovers the truth beyond the ruby veil. Fitzgerald has crafted a violent world with dynamic heroes, her writing anchored in clever dialogue and thrilling action sequences. Emanuela and Alessandro are both gay, Emanuela’s acerbic wit and ambition a foil for Ale’s soft, romantic nature as they find potential love interests in the villains they face off against. Characters use self-harm as a way to access magic, which may be worth mentioning during reader’s advisory. With vibrant world-building and engaging characters, Fitzgerald’s dark fantasy debut is perfect for fans of Holly Black’s The Cruel Prince and Emily A. Duncan’s Wicked Saints. Ale is white and Emanuela’s skin color isn’t overtly stated.
VERDICT A must-purchase for YA collections. Readers will be caught up throughout Emanuela’s ascent into power as she attempts to save Occhia—whether it wants to be or not.

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