Title: The Jewel
Author: Amy Ewing
Publisher/Year: Harper Collins 9/1/15
Length: 400 Pages
Series: The Lone City #1
The Jewel means wealth, the Jewel means beauty—but for Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Born and raised in the Marsh, Violet is destined for the Jewel. She is trained as a surrogate for the royalty and is bought by the Duchess of the Lake at auction. And she quickly learns the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.
Violet must accept the ugly realities of her life . . . all while trying to stay alive. But before she can accept her fate, Violet meets a handsome boy who is also under the Duchess’s control, and a forbidden love erupts. But their illicit affair has consequences, which will cost them both more than they bargained for. And toeing the line between being calculating and rebellious, Violet must decide what, and who, she is willing to risk for her own freedom.
I’ve had this book in my library for so long that i was borderline going to archive it but after reading The Glittering Court the other day, i decided to give this one a chance since the premises are somewhat similar. The overview says that it’s a bit like The Selection and a bit like The Handmaids Tale and i guess in various pieces that’s a correct assessment. I think that there’s definitely a unique skew to this story that we haven’t seen in the same way before.
As the summary notes, we meet Violet on the day before her Reckoning day which is the day that she goes to ‘the Auction’ where she’s to be sold to an elite woman to be her surrogate and birth her child. We are placed in a time and place where society lives in the Lone city, a walled city that’s an island essentially with a great wall keeping the ocean out. As you get closer to the center of the island, you see wealth and quality of life improve taking you all the way to the center – the Jewel where the elite of the elite, the Exetor/Electress (rulers) and the Duchess/Countess (founding families live.
The journey that we go on in this story is not just one of understanding what Violet’s life will be like, but it’s also trying to better understand why she was chosen to be a surrogate and what made the girls in the Marsh so special. They seem to have these genetic mutations where they have powers to manipulate colors, shapes and growth which is something that’s desired by these elite women since everyone is on their quest to have the most desirable child. There are so many questions in my head to understand what makes these women so special and i feel like it’s something that was talked about a lot in the story but we never got clarity. There’s definitely a bigger story here and as the first installment progressed, we definitely began to see how that was going to likely take shape as the series continues.
So back to Violet – she’s been forced into a life where she has no future aside from birthing a child for someone who pays for her in auction, all based on the level of her skills in three augueries as they are called. abilities to manipulate things. She has scored the highest at ability to promote growth and that’s something that one duchess in particular is really interested in since she needs to have the first daughter born now that the electress has a son. She wants her child to be matched with the son so that she can further an agenda that we still don’t know. Violet though not only has become a piece of property but she’s resigned to really living her life as someone else deems is correct. While she’s given food, great clothing and entertainment, she’s not allowed to truly have an identity or even a personality of her own since she’s there for the purpose of having a baby.
There are a cast of characters that we meet throughout that i think make this story even better. There’s Raven who’s Violet’s best friend and who is also in the auction. We see that dynamic change based on who’s purchased her, and the hope that comes along with wanting something more for yourself and your friends. There’s a twist at the end that comes up related to Raven that makes things all that more complicated but gives us something to look forward to in the next book.
Next is lucien who we meet at the Auction as he’s been assigned to prep Violet for her sale. He’s a lady-in waiting’ for the Electress meaning that he’s got quite the high role in working class. We quickly find that he’s someone who’s maybe not sharing all that he is to the world. He quickly becomes a friend to Violet and we see as the story progresses that he is much much more than we know – that he’s connected and has an agenda that will hopefully help all of the surrogates. He’s an inventor of sorts, and a planner and conspirator and from the last line in the story – he’s going to be key moving forward.
Then there’s Ash, who’s been hired as a ‘companion’ for the Duchess’s niece. Ash seems like a nice enough guy at first – maybe the first guy that Violet’s really encountered ever and the one that shows similar interests but he’s forbidden because of who he is in the house and who she is. The evolution of their relationship in this book is quite expected and still you want to bang your head against the wall for their obvious lack of sense of reality since you know that it’s all going to end poorly.
Aside from them, there’s Garnet who is the Duchess’s son, newly engaged and yet a bit of a disappointment to the world, but there’s a huge surprise that popped up at the end that i can’t wait to see how it comes to life in book 2. He has an interesting relationship with Annabelle who’s Violet’s lady in waiting and i want to know more about that as well. Tag on the Duchesses/Dukes, Countesses/Counts and the Exetor/Electress, well i think there’s quite a few personalities to wrangle and a lot of plotting and scheming. Three are endeavors to change the world and how surrogacy happens and i think that it’ll be interesting to see which side ultimately wins out and who’s going to benefit from what. So…on that note – have a great day and i’ll be back soon.