What: Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria
Who: Amulet Books
When: October 9th 2018
How: A copy of this novel was provided by ABRAMS Kids for review via Net Galley.
In the city of Eldra, people are ruled by ancient prophecies. For centuries, the high council has stayed in power by virtue of the prophecies of the elder seers. After the last infallible prophecy came to pass, growing unrest led to murders and an eventual rebellion that raged for more than a decade.
In the present day, Cassa, the orphaned daughter of rebels, is determined to fight back against the high council, which governs Eldra from behind the walls of the citadel. Her only allies are no-nonsense Alys, easygoing Evander, and perpetually underestimated Newt, and Cassa struggles to come to terms with the legacy of rebellion her dead parents have left her — and the fear that she may be inadequate to shoulder the burden. But by the time Cassa and her friends uncover the mystery of the final infallible prophecy, it may be too late to save the city — or themselves.
I was a big fan of Destony Soria’s Iron Cast, so when I saw Beneath the Citadel up on NetGalley I immediately requested it. That badass cover, the awesome sounding synopsis, and the diversity that the author had spoken about all piqued my interest. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up loving Beneath the Citadel as much as I thought I would, and here are the two reasons why:
1) The characters
I honestly could not connect to any of the characters, and yet there were five of them with POV chapters. I desperately wanted to connect with at least one of them – that’s all I would have needed to really invest in the book, but I didn’t. The only one I came close to caring about is Newt because he was a quiet, soft boy that I wanted to protect. And it’s not even that I didn’t like them – I quite liked all of them. But I just didn’t connect with or deeply care about any of them. None of their troubles made my heart hurt, and none of their triumphs made my heart soar. There was just nothing in me for these characters, and it was a damn shame.
However, the diversity of these characters was a delight. Three of the main characters – Cassa, Evander, and Alys – are PoC (described as having brown skin). Evander is also bi, Alys is ace (and fat!), and Newt is gay (or at least he never showed interest in anyone but Evander). The diversity was on point, and I loved that this wasn’t a YA book about a group of skinny white non-queer people because we have surely had enough of those.
2) The plot
The plot of Beneath the Citadel is very slow. As is the world building. There’s quite a lot you need to know about all the supernatural abilities and if I’m being honest, I was lost a lot of the time. I’d just go with it and hope I’d figure it out… which sometimes I did and sometimes I didn’t. The layout of the city was confusing to me and I never really understood what it was supposed to look like. I feel like there might have been levels with a big building for the rich people right at the top but I could be very wrong here.
I thought the plot would be fast paced and full of action, but it wasn’t. There were random chapters of reminiscing about how each of the characters met, which could have been interesting but instead just interrupted the flow of the actual story. There were also huge chunks of the plot that were just the characters moving about the citadel. Now, I don’t mind a journey book but there’s only so much I can take of characters walking through underground tunnels before I want something interesting to happen.
I thought the climax of the book was going to happen at a certain point, but instead of being towards the last third of the story it seemed to happen all at once, which didn’t let me really soak in what was happening. Instead it left me feeling kind of adrift because there had been so much build up for such a short climax.
So there they are: the two reasons why I didn’t love Beneath the Citadel. I really wanted to love this one, but I guess we can’t control how we feel about a book. I know that this will appeal to a lot of readers, especially since connection is a personal thing. All in all, I’m still a fan of Destiny Soria’s and I’ll definitely keep reading her work
© 2018, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.
trigger warning use of ableist language, reference to death of parents, police brutality, reference to past domestic abuse, poverty, reference to torture, murder, loss of memory, death of friend, drug addiction, reference to death of parent, death of family
use of ableist language, reference to death of parents, police brutality, reference to past domestic abuse, poverty, reference to torture, murder, loss of memory, death of friend, drug addiction, reference to death of parent, death of family