By Cynthia Bujnicki
Eldra is ruled by prophecies, has been for centuries. For Cassa and her rebel friends, they fight for a change, for life to be ruled by chance and fate, not visions from the past that continue to haunt the future. But there is one final infallible prophecy that dictates their lives that may be the key to everything they desire…if it doesn’t destroy all of Eldra first.
An exciting novel, Beneath the Citadel follows a young cast of characters as they rebel against the government for a change in the institution. It’s incredibly riveting and has such a strong powerful and energetic opening that introduced the reader to the world of the characters. What’s great about the opening is how focused it is in capturing the individual attitudes of the characters. They are relatable and different while having such a dynamic chemistry with one another that allows them to sync together. Each character is vibrant in their own way, whether it be their rebelliousness or their seriousness. These characters are what make the novel compelling because again and again they are given the short end of the stick but they rise to the occasion. They use the fact that they are being used as pawns by multiple people to give themselves the edge and turn it to their advantage. They are the kind of unlikely heroes that young readers love to read about because they are snarky and because they take what they get and turn it to their whims.
There is also the fact that the characters grow together. They are very different than they were at the beginning of the novel, rising to the occasion and making change where they can. These characters grow through their flaws and through their differences that force them to occasionally butt heads with one another. That’s real friendship and why it resonates so strongly with the reader, pulling them into the narrative and making the reader care about what happens to the characters.
As for the story, after the opening segment, the story slows down drastically. It focuses on world building and history and while the history parts of the novel are interesting, allowing for a break in the overall narrative, everything around them could have been condensed just a tad. This is a novel that installs small chapters of the characters and their history into the story to give the reader something to base their history off of. Those segments are short and sweet and don’t take away from the novel. But the rest of the story, the rising tension, it lags to much as it tries to play off the characters. The pace slows down for about a quarter of the book until the tension and pace pick up again, forcing the tension to take over the story. The pace eventually quickens, of that there is no doubt, forcing the story to take unpredictable and compelling turns.
Beneath the Citadel is, ultimately, an unpredictable read. Some of the world building and the narrative does slow down the pace but the compelling characters and twists and turns make the story well worth the read. (★★★★☆ | B+)