- Publisher: Amulet Books
- Publication date: 9/9/2014
- Source: eARC provided by the publisher for review
Emmeline knows she’s not supposed to explore the woods outside her settlement. The enemy that wiped out half her people lurks there, attacking at night and keeping them isolated in an unfamiliar land with merciless winters. Living with the shame of her grandmother’s insubordination, Emmeline has learned to keep her head down and her quick tongue silent.
When the settlement leader asks for her hand in marriage, it’s an opportunity for Emmeline to wash the family slate clean—even if she has eyes for another. But before she’s forced into an impossible decision, her dreams urge her into the woods, where she uncovers a path she can’t help but follow. The trail leads to a secret that someone in the village will kill to protect. Her grandmother followed the same path and paid the price. If Emmeline isn’t careful, she will be next.
This book reminds me a lot of the movie The Village. A group of people living inside a settlement, fearing the creature outside the walls that killed half of them off generations ago.They must all follow the rules of The Settlement or they will face punishment. Emmeline comes from a family that has a history of Waywardness and she is known as Stained. She is now of age so she is eligible for Binding. She has a history of Waywardness herself, and she can't seem to stop herself from breaking the rules. She knows that there is something else going on and is determined to find out what, but she fears the only way to do that is to accept marriage to the leader. She is in love with another, but her plan is too important, and she knows that it's her only chance.
Emmaline is a tough and smart girl. She loves exploring and collecting items that were left behind by The Lost Ones. She doesn't try to break the rules of the settlement, but her curiosity gets the best of her. She wants to know what is beyond, and what secrets are being kept. She helps the village healer with collecting herbs and other needed supplies, and that gives her a good opportunity to explore. When she catches the eye of Kane, things get more complicated. She is falling for him, but has agreed to Bind with the settlement leader. I wouldn't really call it a love triangle, since she is obviously not interested in the leader. I thought that she made some really bad choices, but her heart was in the right place with discovering what was really going on.
This was a pretty slow moving story, and it really focused on the feel of the story. We get to see the way they are used to living, and how tight the rules are to "keep everyone safe". It's all an elaborate hoax to keep those living there in fear of leaving and trying to see if there is anything else out there. Anyone who gets too close to finding the truth is in danger from within, not from any outside source. I would have liked a bit more history about how the village came to be, but that's okay.
I enjoyed this book overall, but I thought that there was too much focus on the romance and it took away from the story a bit. I understand that it tied certain things together, but I don't think we needed so much time with it. I also wish we had gotten to know the society as a whole a little bit better than we did. We get the general idea, but it's more just snippets. I think that a little more focus on that, and on interactions between people would have rounded out the story much better. The idea of this was not original, but I thought that it was a good book, and executed pretty well. I think it's a book that many will enjoy.
*An advanced copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any compensation.