Sixteen-year-old Koral and her older brother Emrik risk their lives each day to capture the monstrous maristags that live in the black seas around their island. They have to, or else their family will starve.
In an oceanic world swarming with vicious beasts, the Landers-the ruling elite, have indentured Koral’s family to provide the maristags for the Glory Race, a deadly chariot tournament reserved for the upper class. The winning contender receives gold and glory. The others-if they’re lucky-survive.
When the last maristag of the year escapes and Koral has no new maristag to sell, her family’s financial situation takes a turn for the worse and they can’t afford medicine for her chronically ill little sister. Koral’s only choice is to do what no one in the world has ever dared: cheat her way into the Glory Race.
But every step of the way is unpredictable as Koral races against contenders who have trained for this their whole lives and who have no intention of letting a low-caste girl steal their glory. When riots break out and rogues attack Koral to try and force her to drop out, she must choose-her life or her sister’s-before the whole island burns.
Sixteen year old Koral and her brother Emrik are maristag hunters. Their goal is to capture maristags, breed them, train their off offspring to tolerate land and then sell them to the Landers to compete in the Glory Race. Whilst attempting to catch a maristag Emrik is injured and they are unable to catch the last maristag of the year. Koral realises that they will not have enough money to provide for their family or enough money to pay for her little sister Liria’s medication so Koral decides that she has no other option than to take part in the Glory Race which also brings her face to face with her ex-boyfriend Dorian who she hasn’t spoken to in 2 years when he left her without any explanation. Will Koral win the Glory Race and will be still be able to participate despite others plans to sabotage her?
The synopsis for this book intrigued me from the beginning because it sounded really interesting and had a very Hunger Games feel to it. The storyline was well plotted and easy to follow. It was written in so much detail that at times it felt like I was catching maristag and taking part in the Glory Race with Koral. When I started reading I was transported to Koral’s world which is not a world I would want to live in because it’s all about survival and hierarchy. Where the hierarchy is concerned Koral is quite far at the bottom and the only way for her and her family to survive is for her to catch maristags. I really liked Koral as a character. She is determined but she’s also very capable because she is one of the main people that catch maristag and therefore she is probably the best person to take part in the race and be successful. Whether she is or not you’ll have to read the book to find out. Although Koral is set on winning the Glory Race amid other complications she also has to deal with the fact that one of her opponents is Dorian. It is clear that Koral has conflicting feelings for Dorian which is understandable as she still doesn’t know the reason he left but this becomes clear as the story progresses. Knowing that this was a South Asian inspired fantasy and that the main character and others would look like me made me love this book even more. When I came across the paragraph where one of the characters is described as wearing a sari, this really made me smile.
The book ended on somewhat of a cliffhanger so I’m intrigued to see if there will be a second book as I am intrigued to see more of Koral’s journey.
An action packed YA fantasy novel!
Tanvi Berwah is a South Asian writer who grew up wanting to touch the stars and reach back in time. She graduated from the University of Delhi with a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Literature of English and lives in India. This is her debut novel.