Calling all fans of irresistable gangs of misfits, rebellions, and books that will keep you reading until past your bedtime. Beneath the Citadel needs to be your next binge read.
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.
When I first started reading this, the Six of Crows feels were so real. But what I quickly realized is how much more diversity, more rage, and more broader political implications that Beneath the Citadel has. It features characters who are gay, bi, fat, ace, and suffering from panic attacks/anxiety. Not all of those at once! And Cassa has this delightful rage that I empathized so much with. It’s this band of misfits who are up against a deeply unjust system. And the world building here makes the rage stand out even more so!
I love each one of these rascals so much. Their intelligence, soft spots, bravery, and fears. I adored Vesper’s quiet intensity and strength. I fell in love with Alys no-muss attitude, the ways she turns things into logic, and the fact that she’s ace. Evander charmed me with his easy going spirit, his vulnerable spots, and his quick fingers. While Newt endeared me with his strong face hiding his emotions, his fears of not being enough, and his ability to speak wisdom.
And don’t get me started on how much I identified with Cassa’s rage, with her fury for the system that took her parents away, with her need to have the last word, and with her self-confidence which hides her insecurity. While there were elements of myself in each of them, I identified most with Cassa this time. Her passion for justice is what motivates the groups, and her natural leadership role carries them with her because of friendship and trust.
But at the same time, do we give into our rage? Our thirst for revenge?
World Building + Writing
The world in Beneath the Citadel operates on prophecies mixed with government. So the idea that you can see the future, see someone planning to assassinate the chancellor, and stop it before it happens. But it becomes magnified, to those who would seek to rebel against the system. To those who would want to stand up against a system where their every move is foretold.
And because of this, we are asked constantly – who is the villain? Who is the monster? Society is full of misinformation, secrets, and downright deception. In a world where memories can be stolen and prophecies foretold, who is really ever on our side? There are characters who do terrible things for the right reasons, and those who do monstrous things out of selfishness, or love.
When do we become monsters? It’s about our responsibility, what we do with our power.
Beneath the Citadel is not only told from all of our main character’s perspectives – Vesper, Cassa, Evander, Newt, and Alys – but also by highlighting the moments they all met each other, and certain characters betrayed each other. This way we are able to carefully unfold how they got together, how their lives intertwined. We witness the forces binding them together and the challenges tugging them apart.
Beneath the Citadel becomes impossible to put down. You want to figure out what will happen, who will fall, and if they can rise. And the only question, besides where you can buy this for yourself, is do they have what it takes to thwart the unthwartable?