I came across this book by Destiny Soria when I was browsing through the YA section of one of my local indie book stores earlier this year. I loved Soria’s last book, so I came very close to buying her new one when I saw it, but my book collection has gotten completely out of control, so I restrained myself. As much as I would love to buy all the books and support all the authors, I just can’t afford to do that. Fortunately, my library had the audiobook of this one and it was readily available so I went ahead and downloaded it when I was between audiobooks.
IT’S SO GOOD!!!
The narrator is Rebecca Gibel and she did a fantastic job. Her narration, combined with Soria’s writing meant I never wanted to stop listening to this audiobook.
Our plucky heroes are Cassa, Newt, Evander and Alys, and we meet them when they’re being sentenced to death for breaking into the citadel. They all seem pretty unconcerned with their imminent executions, and they manage to break out of their cells so perfectly that you think they must have coordinated it ahead of time, but no. They had not planned on getting caught, but they’re each so capable, and they work so well together that they’re able to escape their cells and make a run for it down into the very depths of the catacombs underneath the citadel (hence the title).
But they get lost and Cassa asks Alys to “read the coins” to divine which way they should go to get out of there. Alys had a mishap a few years ago in which she divined something terrible happening to her family, but failed to figure out what it meant and warn them, so she has decided she’s no good at divining and is better off just not even trying to see the future. She also suffers from panic attacks, so that’s not helping.
But it’s either that, or wait for the guards to catch up and kill them, or hide and wander around until they starve to death, so she does her best and she hears this mysterious voice telling her to go left, so they go left. They come across a huge, underground lake, but fortunately, there’s a rowboat handy, so they all hop in and start rowing.
When they reach the other side, they find a man in a living area with furniture that’s rotten and mildewed and silverware that’s tarnished and rusted. He offers them tea and explains that he needs their help.
First, a little world building:
Cassa and her friends live in a city called Eldra, which as been ruled by the High Council for centuries. The High Council users Seers and Diviners to see the future and they manage to turn all the prophecies to their own advantage. The wealthy grew wealthier and the poor grew poorer until they had enough and rebelled, but their rebellion was squashed in a slaughter that killed thousands.
That lead to a secret, organized resistance, which existed for more than a century until a few years ago when just about all the rebels were killed, including both of Cassa’s parents. The current Chancellor of the High Council was the one who gave the order, so Cassa is hellbent on killing him to get her revenge, but also to overturn the Council and give power to the people.
The problem is the Chancellor is Vesper’s uncle. Vesper was Cassa’s best friend for a few years, and she was supposed to join Cassa and the others in their mission to penetrate the Citadel, but she backed out at the last minute. She knew that her uncle knew Cassa’s whole plan already and was waiting for them because he had Diviners who saw the whole thing. Vesper doesn’t tell Cassa this, although she does try to talk her out of going.
In addition to Seers and Diviners, there are also Rooks, who can take people’s memories away just by touching them. Their are also Sentients, who can read your thoughts just by looking at your face. Rooks are used before people are executed to wipe them of all their memories so they can die “pure”. It’s supposed to be comforting, but I find the idea horrifying.
Back to the guy living under the Citadel. His name is Solan Tavish and it turns out he’s both a Rook and a Sentient, which the gang hadn’t even known was possible. He’s grown so strong that he’s able to wipe someone of their memories without even being in the same room as them, which explains why people around town have been collapsing and disappearing.
Solan claims these mishaps are accidents – that his power tends to get away from him every now and then.
Meanwhile, the Council basically keeps him prisoner and forces him to wipe the memories of the people they convict before he kills them – he’s the Executioner. But he claims he doesn’t want to be the Executioner, he just wants out, but because he’s hundreds of years old and has wiped so many minds, he’s reliant on a serum called Miasma that the Council provides him with on a regular basis. He needs the help of the gang to find a way to escape the clutches of the evil council and still survive.
The four of them agree to think about it, then they all run off back to Evander and Alys’s place (they’re brother and sister). But of course that’s exactly where the Council would send their guards to wait for them, so I can’t even believe they thought that was a good idea.
Sure enough, not only are the guards there, but the Chancellor himself is there waiting for them and he needs their help to kill Solan Tavish.
Now, the Chancellor has absolutely no idea that they’ve already found and spoken to Solan Tavish. He says that there’s a “monster” beneath the Citadel who is far too powerful for anyone’s good and the only way to make sure the city is safe is to kill him. The gang isn’t sure whether they should help him or Solan, so they decide to tell him they’ll help him and then make their decision later. The Chancellor decides to take matters into his own hands by taking Evander and Alys’s parents with him as collateral.
Whom should the gang help? The evil Chancellor who ordered the deaths of Cassa’s parents and is working with the corrupt Council? Or an insanely powerful man who is currently trapped beneath the Citadel by the evil, corrupt Council, and now wants to be loose on the world?
I won’t give it away, but I will say I had so much fun listening to this audiobook and I can’t wait to read more of Soria’s work.
What did you read/listen to this week? Anything else you had a hard time putting down?