This review was guest posted on Ity Reads Books: Gravemaidens
Cast out of nobility for failing to save the ruler's dying son, Kammani's father spends his nights befuddled by alcohol. Having trained under her father, Kammani continues to heal when her father cannot. As the ruler of Alu falls ill, sacred maidens are called to accompany him into death. When Kammani's sister is selected as a maiden, Kammani will do everything in her power to heal the dying ruler. But Kammani's sister, Nanaea wants nothing more than to repair her family's honor by being a maiden. An unknown illness plagues the ruler and Kammani must battle both the unknown and the spite from her sister. But as she begins to unearth hidden truths within the palace, she will realize there is much more at stake.
Gravemaidens read at an even pace, not holding too many twists or turns. I guessed a few of the plot reveals before they occurred, but it was still an entertaining read. Kammani's character kept me reading. She was dedicated to the healing arts and was extremely different from the usual YA protagonist who chases after love. While Kammani acknowledged that she did feel attracted to Dagan, she was responsible enough to know that she had an important job to do.
This book does touch on cruelty towards women, as the world of Alu contains men who see women as beneath them. There are moments of abuse, but once the structure is established it dances on the edge of this theme. Men leer at the woman and make lewd suggestions throughout the novel to remind the reader of the dangers Kammani could be in if caught alone.
But despite everything she has to face, Kammani is determined to save her sister. Even if Nanaea fights against it every step of the way. The age difference between the two was so clear when Nanaea bickered with Kammani over being a maiden. And yet through it all, Kammani's love for her sister was so clear to the reader.
I'm intrigued to see where the next book leads. Given where the characters end up, I am puzzled as to how the series can continue. But Kelly Coon must have something planned, and I can't wait to see what it is!