Rule by Ellen Goodlett | Three Girls, One Crown, and a Whole Lotta Blackmail (ARC Review)

Rule

From Goodreads:

Three girls with three deadly secrets. Only one can wear the crown.

The king is dying, his heir has just been murdered, and rebellion brews in the east. But the kingdom of Kolonya and the outer Reaches has one last option before it descends into leaderless chaos.

Or rather, three unexpected options.

Zofi has spent her entire life trekking through the outer Reaches with her band of Travelers. She would do anything to protect the band, her family. But no one can ever find out how far she’s already gone.

Akeylah was raised in the Eastern Reach, surrounded by whispers of rebellion and abused by her father. Desperate to escape, she makes a decision that threatens the whole kingdom.

Ren grew up in Kolonya, serving as a lady’s maid and scheming her way out of the servants’ chambers. But one such plot could get her hung for treason if anyone ever discovers what she’s done.

When the king summons the girls, they arrive expecting arrest or even execution. Instead they learn the truth: they are his illegitimate daughters, and one must become his new heir. But someone in Kolonya knows their secrets, and that someone will stop at nothing to keep the sisters from their destiny… to rule.

Magic, mystery, and blackmail abound in this sensational and striking fantasy debut.

Rule is a twisty fantasy novel about three strong girls that I enjoyed! I actually read it in pretty much one sitting, with just a few breaks for snacks/dinner/the bathroom.

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One of my favorite things about Rule is that the protagonists are all strong female characters with different personalities and voices. There’s Zofi, a fierce girl who’s traveled from place to place all her life, Akeylah, a quiet bookworm who’s been mistreated by her family, and Florencia, a servant who is determined to rise above her rank. I love that all of these girls have different personality types, and I think it shows that there is no one type of strong woman—they come in all types.

Two of the three girls are people of color I believe (as well as some side characters) which is great because it’s so important for there to be more poc in fantasy! There is also a sapphic main character. (Though I feel it’s important to note that the sapphic relationship is between a main character and her stepmother—they’re the same age, and the stepmother was married off to the main character’s father for political reasons, but it may be uncomfortable for some readers.)

Another thing I really liked about Rule is how the three leads don’t like each other at first, but their relationships grow and develop over the course of the novel. I really didn’t want the book to turn into a nasty, competition thing where all of the sisters hated each other, and I’m so glad this wasn’t the case!

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Rule‘s plot mainly follows the three sisters as they adjust to life as royals, all while trying to hide the secrets from their pasts and figure out who is blackmailing them. I thoroughly enjoyed the plot and found it to be engaging and fast-paced. I think the secrets and the blackmail aspect really made this story interesting, as well as the Vulgar Arts, a forbidden form of the world’s magic system that comes into play over the course of the book.

My main problem with the book’s plot is the ending—I found the plot twist at the end to be really predictable, and the ending in general felt like it was perhaps a bit rushed. I had SO many unanswered questions, although I guess that and the cliffhanger are meant to get people to read the second book, which has not yet been published. I will most likely pick up the sequel when it releases, which means that in my case, Ellen Goodlett has succeeded!

Writing

Goodlett’s writing was immersive, and I had no problems with the writing in this book. I thought the author did a really good job of creating distinct voices for the three POVs in the book—never once did I forget who was narrating, which is a sure sign of a multiple-POV book done right! I also liked the discussion of prejudice that came up throughout the novel.

Overall Thoughts

The ending wasn’t my favorite, but I enjoyed this one! There are a lot of interesting aspects of the story’s plot that make it stand out from other books in the genre, and I liked the three main characters.

Diversity rep: Multiple POC characters (including some main characters), sapphic main character

Content warnings: abusive parent, death, alcoholism, self-harm (the magic system relies on drawing your own blood, so please be aware of this if depictions of self-harm make you uncomfortable)

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Do you plan on reading Rule? Do you like books with multiple POVs? Talk to me in the comments!

♥ Annie

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a free review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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6 thoughts on “Rule by Ellen Goodlett | Three Girls, One Crown, and a Whole Lotta Blackmail (ARC Review)

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  3. CG @ Paper Fury

    Ooh I do want to read this one and I’m glad it didn’t dissolve into catty awful relationships with the girls! Also so excited for a POC and sapphic cast. 😍I don’t usually gravitate towards books with tons of narrators is the only thing eep, I have trouble keeping everyone straight? But if their voices are distinct, then I’m onboard!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ooo the cover is so cool! It looks a bit Alice in Wonderland-y, but with a dark twist 🙂
    The premise of the story sounds exciting, too – I just read a story featuring potential heirs to the throne competing against each other, and enjoyed it so I think I might check this one out!

    Liked by 1 person

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