384p. Little, Brown. Sept. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316515283.
Gr 9 Up—An epic fantasy adventure told from the alternating perspectives of three young women of very different backgrounds. Zofi, Akeylah, and Ren are summoned by the king to the central city of Kolonya and told that they are actually his "bastard" daughters. After the murder of the king's only heir, they are now suddenly legitimized. With his health failing, he wants to evaluate their worthiness for the throne before choosing a successor, but all three have deadly secrets being leveraged by a shadowy blackmailer. They must decide if they can trust one another enough to pool their unique strengths, uncover their blackmailer, and ensure the safety of their kingdom. The book ends with a devastating cliff-hanger, leaving readers with more questions than answers. In many ways the Reaches, of which Kolonya is the capital, represent a progressive society with male and female warriors and an LGBTQ-affirming society. However, the kingdom suffers from the same racial tensions, class wars, and poverty issues of our own world. These problems are presented in an empathetic way that bring clarity. Characters utilize "blood tithes" to heighten their abilities in a way that adds a fun superherolike quality to an already rich world. Likable main and secondary characters will draw teens. However, the dense world-building and backstories make the pages turn a bit more slowly, despite death threats, political intrigue, and just the right amount of romance.
VERDICT A great purchase for libraries with strong readers and fantasy lovers.

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