I’ve been excited for Gravemaidens ever since, what feels like, last year. So when I was approved on Netgalley I knew my time had come.
In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame.
When Alu’s ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honor. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her.
But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is—a death sentence.
Desperate to save her sister, Kammani schemes her way into the palace to heal the ruler. There she discovers more danger lurking in the sand-stone corridors than she could have ever imagined and that her own life—and heart—are at stake. But Kammani will stop at nothing to dig up the palace’s buried secrets even if it means sacrificing everything…including herself.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: gore, abuse, sexual assault
Gravemaidens is a story motivated for love. Kammani’s world changed the moment her family was cast down from nobility, but nothing could have prepared her for the shock and fear when her sister was chosen as a sacred maiden. These maidens are tasked with joining the dead King to the Afterworld, but it’s human sacrifice – taking the most beautiful maidens to the grave. Kammani is determined to do everything she can to save her sister from death, including trying to heal the ruler with her well known healing skills.
But nothing comes for free in the world of Gravemaidens. What’s fascinating is how society believes that being the sacred maidens is a privilege. How they feel honored, to the very end, and seeing Kammani come head to head with this belief. At the same time, there’s Kammani’s very real desire to be a great healer. To not have to be a wife and mother, but instead to achieve fame and be able to use her skills to help others.
Gravemaidens is a story of family and ambition, but it’s also a story about conspiracy, manipulation, and belief. I think it’s a good series opener and I hope the elements where I was searching for more depth – Kammani’s relationship to her sister and her romantic feelings – will be discussed more in the second book. Overall, Gravemaidens is a story that asks us about our individual choices, if we live for those we have lost, and how we will fight to achieve our dreams.