“In a thrilling fantasy that’s equal parts Prison Break and Frozen, Valor attempts the impossible—breaking her sister out of prison.
When Valor is arrested, she couldn’t be happier. Demidova’s prison for criminal children is exactly where she wants to be. Valor’s sister Sasha is already serving a life sentence for stealing from the royal family and Valor is going to help her escape . . . from the inside.
Never mind that no one has escaped in three hundred years. Valor has a plan and resources most could only dream about. But she didn’t count on having to outsmart both the guards and her fellow prisoners. If Valor’s plan is to succeed, she’ll need to make unlikely allies. And if the plan fails, she and Sasha could end up with fates worse than prison.
This fresh and exciting middle-grade debut effortlessly melds an unforgettable protagonist, a breathless plot, and stunning world-building—and is impossible to put down.”
-Synopsis taken from Goodreads
Hey guys, Meaghan here again with another review!
First off, I would like to thank the publisher and author for providing me this ARC to review. Please note that the version I read was an advanced copy, and certain events/language may be changed in the published edition.
Stars (Out of 10): 5/10 Stars
Overall Thoughts: This was a quite interesting book. It was middle grade, which is not a genre/type of book I’ve read in a while, but I ended up enjoying it nonetheless! However, it was far from one of my favorites due to the reason I will discuss below!
The Good: Interesting premise, loved the idea of a group coming together and working to escape the inescapable. Based on friendship/sisterhood/family more than a romance, but this was probably due to it being middle grade. However, I did love the twist at the end.
The Bad: Super open ending, especially for a book that’s supposed to be stand-alone. In addition, HIGHLY unrealistic that a 13 year old completed the events of the book. Also, world wasn’t really developed on, and I felt I didn’t know much about it at all besides of how royalty took the throne.
SPOILERS BEGIN HERE
The Characters: While I liked the variety in cast we saw, I felt there was almost too many characters for the short length of the book. It led to not all of them feeling fully developed, or getting live out the entire story. In addition, the age of the characters made it seem pretty unrealistic. A 13 year old is able to escape come up with and properly execute a (somewhat simple) escape plan, when surrounded by a bunch of smart guards and leaders? She tried to kill the prince (in their eyes), yet wasn’t watched enough even though the prison was prided on how difficult it was to escape from? In addition, Valor was super troublesome as well, so if her crime didn’t draw attention to her, surely that would’ve?
The Plot: I quite liked the plot, and how the princess ended up being the one who stole the music box! I didn’t expect that at all, and I was pleasantly surprised by the twist. In addition, I did like most of the events leading up to the escape, and how Anatol ended up being a good guy. However, I’m somewhat upset by the ending, since the ending didn’t need to say Anastasia escaped if it was just a stand alone. Without that extra bit, it would’ve been a solid ending.
The World Building: As I said above, subpar. Definitely could have been developed way more, and this was definitely the weakest part of the tale. I was interested in how everything worked, especially because of how the careers of Valor’s parents worked (with trades being passed down to the children, etc.) While there was enough for a proper story to be told, it still felt underdeveloped.
The Favorite Character: Prince Anatol grew on me!