In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret...
In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.
Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.
As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.
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STACEY JAY is the author of the popular Juliet Immortal and Romeo Redeemed and several other books for young adults. She lives in California with her family.From School Library Journal :
Gr 8 Up–Hundreds of years after humans landed on a distant planet, Smooth Skins live in protective domes that keep out the scaly skinned Desert People, whom they call Monstrous. Blind since childhood, 17-year-old Princess Isra makes clandestine nighttime visits to the dome's rose garden. Someday, as queen, she will have to shed her blood to water the roses and keep the city secure. To save their people from starvation, a Monstrous raiding party attempts to steal the roses and their magic. Isra demands that 19-year-old Gem be spared. She hopes that he can help her raise plants to stop the scaling skin that could doom her to banishment. Slowly Isra comes to see both literally and figuratively the deformities and mistreatment of the Banished inside the city and the injustices done to the Desert People outside. Gem realizes that Isra, too, is a prisoner, destined to marry Bo, whose powerful father manipulates events to make sure his son will rule the kingdom. Eventually Isra learns that the queens' bloodletting actually feeds an evil Dark Heart beneath the flowers. Only love between a Smooth Skin and a Monstrous can break an ancient curse. Isra, Gem, and Bo narrate chapters of this reimagining of the familiar tale. Isra and Gem reluctantly acknowledge their growing attraction that deepens into love. Bo, who might have emerged as a villain, instead questions the need for sacrifice and resists his father's demands. Explanations of complex history and legend slow the pace at times, but revelations and plot twists keep the action flowing and romance growing. Variations of conventions such as having a Monstrous attempt to steal roses and bring the dying princess to life are overshadowed by the final transformation of Isra, Gem, and their people into something entirely new, both Beast and Beauty. A satisfying read for fans of romantic fantasy.–Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankatoα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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