Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria

While I enjoyed the overall plot and found it to be unique, the writing style didn’t really work for me and I personally found the execution to be lacking. It is worth it to note that I buddy read this with Melanie, who loved it. While this book didn’t hit the spot for me, I do recommend this book!

About the Book

Publisher: Amulet Books  |  Release Date: October 9, 2018  |  Pages: 480
Genre: Adult, Horror  |  Format: eARC  |  Source: Publisher via Netgalley

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.

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My Review

Beneath the Citadel is a standalone young adult fantasy which at its heart challenges the notion of destiny and predetermination. The city of Eldra has been ruled for centuries by the High Council, which maintains its power through prophecy. It’s been four years since the rebellion was quelled, but there’s a ragtag group of friends determined to fight back against the council so that all the lives lost meant something.

“We are not foretold.”

This is a difficult review for me to write. While I enjoyed the overall plot and found it to be unique, the writing style didn’t really work for me and I personally found the execution to be lacking. It is worth it to note that I buddy read this with Melanie, who loved it, and at the time of writing there is an average rating of 4.05 on Goodreads. While this book didn’t hit the spot for me, I do recommend this book! So without further adieu, let’s hop into the review!

Opening Lines: “Four people were supposed to die at sunrise. The four members of the council sat in the Judgement Hall, prepared to declare the prisoners’ fate. The high chancellor himself oversaw the proceedings, as was customary in trials for treason. Deep beneath the citadel, the executioner was waiting.”

I was blown away by the opening chapter and Soria managed to draw me in immediately with the first paragraph. In four lines she was able to set the stage: the political ceremony, who the players were, and the foreboding future. Who are these four traitors and what is their crime? To answer the latter question let’s use the words of Cassa herself: “Why would I deny successfully infiltrating the Central Keep with nothing but some barrels and a pry bar? I’m really quite proud of myself.”

I love ragtag groups out to right a wrong, and this group of characters is precious. I really appreciated learning about their pasts as well as their histories with one another and what side their parents landed on during the rebellion. There are a lot of levels to each of these relationships and Soria did a good job creating and developing these characters.

There are a total of six perspectives in this book. SIX. While I actually enjoyed each of the characters a lot and found each of them to be complex, the crux of my struggles with the narrative is the juggling of these perspectives. The constant shifting of perspective, often times creating mini-cliffhangers at chapter breaks, made it difficult for me to stay engaged in the overall plot and I actually found myself caring less as the story progressed. Coupled with the narrative choice of telling rather than showing, reading the book felt repetitious because the same information was constantly being revisited in each of the six POVs. I found myself bored and wanting to skip ahead to see what new things would happen next. The POVs were actually all written in a third person voice, and I wonder if we had an omniscient narrator would have been more successful.

We all know that I adore worldbuilding, especially religion, and I am happy to say that this is truly where Soria shines! The world is vast and I really feel like I understood the way religion and prophecy were used in this world to exert and maintain power (and how that power corrupted over time). I also really loved the magic system(s) and found it so interesting! I did find the plot to be a bit predictable and frustrating at times, Cassa’s singular goal of revenge really bothered me, and it is like reading the naivete of teenagers that know better and then are shocked when what they suspected winds up being true.

Overall, while I didn’t enjoy the writing style and execution, Beneath the Citadel is a creative standalone fantasy with excellent LGBTQIAP+, fat, and anxiety rep. This just wasn’t the book for me but I definitely recommend it to readers that love multiple POV stories that shed light on the truth/past bit by bit through varying perspectives and memories. There are amazing worldbuilding and character development, and the cover is gorgeous!

Content Warnings: loss of a loved one, torture, abuse, panic and anxiety attacks (really good rep), death

Many thanks to the publisher for providing me an electronic advanced reader copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. Quotations taken from an uncorrected proof and may change upon final publication.

🤝 Buddy read with Melanie from meltotheany

spacer_wLet’s go on another adventure together!

 

24 Comments

  1. meltotheany

    September 23, 2018 at 9:28 AM

    Amazing review and amazing buddy read, love! I can’t wait for our next one! Happy reading! 💛xx

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      September 24, 2018 at 8:58 AM

      Thanks so much, Mel! I can’t wait for our next read together as well! xoxo

  2. Tessa

    September 23, 2018 at 12:48 PM

    Great review (and I am glad that you managed to get it up!).

    It is always disappointing when you like a story, but not the format. Personally, I love multiple perspectives, but I understand how the constant switching between POVs can be hard to follow. There were a few books that I just couldn’t read due to the writing style (most notably The Blood Red Road by Moira Young). When a writing style doesn’t do a premise justice, I find it hard to figure out what to base the rating on too.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      September 24, 2018 at 9:01 AM

      Thank you so much, Tessa! I was really salty about having to write it again and it isn’t as good as the first time *sobbing*

      I think I am just easy to please with multiple POVs; a lot of the fantasy I’ve been meh about has been more than 2 POVs, which is definitely why I don’t fault the book at all. Reading is such a personal experience and most of my friends that have read this book LOVED it. Thanks for commenting!

  3. marysmarbles

    September 23, 2018 at 8:58 PM

    I’m sorry you were disappointed with the book. I know it’s hard when there are 3 or more POV’s for me to read and that’s kinda hard to follow through with reading until the end. I’m glad you finished it though. xx

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      September 24, 2018 at 9:02 AM

      Thank you so much for commenting, and yea I have found a lot of the fantasy I’ve been meh about had a LOT of POVs. I am just hard to please with this writing style, I suppose. Glad I finished too because I enjoyed the unique story a lot.

  4. Justine @ Bookish Wisps

    September 24, 2018 at 9:06 AM

    I am starting to get into more multiple pov and I am starting to love them. But I do get that it can be confusing at times. And sorry you had to go through that but the book sounds interesting.

    About buddy reading I really haven’t tried it still haha! Glad that you got through reading it with a buddy on your side.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      September 25, 2018 at 7:13 AM

      I love multiple POVs sometimes, I swear! I just feel like that’s been my main complaint lately, hahaha. The book is really interesting and unique, and I would def recommend it!

  5. Sophia (Bookwyrming Thoughts)

    September 24, 2018 at 10:33 PM

    Oh no! Sorry this didn’t work out for you, Kaleena! I tend to have difficulty with a lot of perspectives as well, so I totally understand where you’re coming from. It does sound like Beneath the Citadel is a love or hate novel with mainly positives regardless. 🤗

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      September 25, 2018 at 7:22 AM

      I’m glad that I’m not the only one that struggles with tons of POVs! But you are right, even despite this it is a good book and I would highly recommend it. thanks for stopping by, Soph!

  6. Kat @ Novels & Waffles

    September 25, 2018 at 8:41 PM

    Oh my gosh, this book has anxiety rep? I need this now. I feel like fantasy books don’t usually have mental illness representation in them, so I’m glad this one does. Thanks for such a wonderful review 🙂

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      September 26, 2018 at 7:31 AM

      IT DOES! And it is good rep for panic attacks! I was so shocked and really loved seeing something I struggle with so well depicted, and not used as a way to belittle the character in any way. Thanks so much, Kat!

      1. Kat @ Novels & Waffles

        September 26, 2018 at 2:59 PM

        I’m glad that it’s depicted in a realistic way too, and not just superficially or used for a plot device. Which I feel like sometimes happens.

  7. adeleisreading

    September 29, 2018 at 11:58 PM

    Great review! I haven’t yet read this yet, but boi it is ON my TBR for sure!! And thanks for listing the Content Warning. 🙂

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      October 3, 2018 at 7:55 PM

      Thank you so much, Adele! I hope you enjoy the book when you pick it up!!!

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    September 30, 2018 at 10:05 AM

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  10. devouringbooks2017

    October 9, 2018 at 10:04 PM

    Excellent review with so many good points. I have heard someone else say that they couldn’t jive with the multiple POVs as well. I did find that the character development was done especially well with the flashback scenes. Nice review, very well put.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      October 10, 2018 at 8:33 AM

      Thank you so much, and this was a good book overall – just not really for me. The more YA that I read, the more I realize that I struggle with high numbers of POVs; definitely a “it’s not you, it’s me.”

      1. devouringbooks2017

        October 10, 2018 at 3:11 PM

        I totally get how it might not be for some people

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