I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. The scheduled publication date for this book is February 14, 2017.
Our world belongs to the Equals—aristocrats with magical gifts—and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world. Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of their noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty—but will her heart pay the price? Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution. And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts. He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?
The premise for this book was awesome and I did enjoy parts of it. The author painted a very bleak picture of Equals and the commoners, who are required to be their slaves for a period of ten years at some point during their lives. So there is inequality and more importantly, there is magic among the Equals. The magic is what separates the Equals from the commoners. It's passed down through the families, but this is kind of where the author lost me with the world building. There just wasn't enough magic in it for me. I craved it something fierce. When there was magic, I was so excited but those scenes just weren't enough. I also don't think the author delved too deeply into where the magic came from originally and how the laws got to be passed about everyone's slave days. It seems so odd that these laws were passed without too much resistance, but then again people used their magic so I think some of it can be explained by that.
Let's talk about the characters. First of all, I think there were way too many POV's. The main problem with this book was that I couldn't connect with any of them. Most of the characters were just boring. This book took a while to read because so much time would pass with nothing happening to any of them. I did like Luke and the resistance that he joined. I think that is relevant with what's happening today, but I don't think they carried the resistance part far enough. They could have done more with that, I think. There isn't really a lot of romance here, which awesome. But there is some insta-love between Abi and her master. How can you possibly fall in love with someone who is basically holding you hostage. I also had a really hard time following the bloodlines and the family ties of the most powerful family in England. There were so many names and events from the past that my head started spinning and I found myself rereading few paragraphs to try and get everything straight.
The ending to the book was pretty awesome and that does make me want to read the next one. I don't know that it would be a priority for me though.
Buy/Borrow/Skip: Even though I liked parts of it and I thought the ending was exciting, I still think you should skip this series.