I first came across this book when it was released, and it sounded really interesting, but I wasn’t really in the mood for a fantasy at the time so I didn’t buy it until I discovered it again when the Kindle edition was on sale. I picked it up but didn’t read it until a few days ago, because I wanted something different from all of the thrillers that I’ve been constantly obsessed with.
I expected this to be an interesting fantasy with a beautiful setting, because the cover and the synopsis kind of laid that out already.
What I didn’t expect was to love this book so freaking much.
Everything about this book was just amazing. I adored literally every single aspect. The characters, the setting, the overall story – everything was wonderfully written.
Needless to say, I actually bought the second book in the duology, The Alcazar, before I even finished this one.
“We are the Cerulean. Our blood is magic.”
Sera is a member of the Ceruleans, a race of individuals who live in a city above the clouds, way up in the sky. Their skin is a beautiful shimmering silver, their eyes and hair a perfect cerulean blue color. Their blood is magical – they heal quickly, can blood-bond with each other, and are able to tell each other’s emotions and see their memories. Everyone who lives in The City Above the Sky is female, and each girl has three mothers – an orange mother, a green mother, and a purple mother. Each mother has something special to pass on to their daughter, something she excels at that the others do not. Their family lives are happy, and their world is just about perfect.
“The blood bond was one of the most sacred aspects of Cerulean magic. It was deeply personal and intimate. Sera had only ever bonded with her mothers and Leela. It was not to be taken lightly, the reading of another’s heart.”
Every so often (or every so many centuries, depending), the High Priestess holds a ceremony where Mother Sun chooses a Cerulean to fall from the city, onto the planet below: this gives them the chance to break the tether holding them to the planet, which can allow them to find a new home, where they can anchor themselves to a different plant, absorbing that planet’s gifts. This is done until Mother Sun and the High Priestess tell the rest of the Cerulean that they need to find a new planet, a new place in the sky to anchor their tether. And for each time this occurs, a member of the city must be sacrificed by a fall – one that will kill them.
This time around, Sera is chosen.
Sera is a fun-loving, energetic, and eccentric Cerulean who spends most of her time with her best friend, Leela.
“‘In three days’ time, Sera Lighthaven will make the greatest leap of faith a Cerulean can make,’ the High Priestess announced. ‘She will throw herself from the dais in the Night Gardens and spill her blood to break the tether. She will be honored and cherished by us all as we travel to our new home!’ Hearing her say the details out loud, Sera felt numb. Her brain refused to believe the information, as if the High Priestess were talking about someone else.”
Sera feels lost and alone – she can’t believe she has been chosen to spill her blood and die for her city, and it doesn’t feel real to her. She spends the next few days in a haze, and when the time comes for her to throw herself to the planet below, something goes wrong, causing Sera to live, and the tether to remain unbroken.
Once Sera is on the planet, she is caught by two individuals – Agnes, and her brother Leo. Leo wants to impress his father, who is one of the most renowned men in Kaolin. Their father, Xavier, is famous for his plays that poke fun of Pelago, the other place on the planet that Agnes and Leo’s mother was from. Xavier, who is anti-Pelago, always lets on that he only married her for her money, and he will not even let his children visit Pelago to see their grandmother.
Leo will do anything to impress his father – even capture Sera and deliver her to him, which in turn will lead to her being put in one of his theatrical performances, and of course, using her magical blood to benefit him.
“‘Grief breaks us in different ways,’ she said. ‘For some, the need to seek answers can be powerful. But there are no answers to give here. Only the pain of loss and the solace of prayer. But do not fear. Even those Mother Sun deems unworthy of sacrifice are still held in her everlasting embrace. Sera may not have been the right choice, but she will not be forgotten by our mother.'”
In between the events that are occurring on the planet’s surface in Kaolin, life goes on up above in the City Above the Sky. Leela misses her best friend, and Sera’s purple mother is lost without her daughter – and she also has the feeling that something isn’t quite right. Leela and Sera’s purple mother team up to investigate further into what is really going on behind the High Priestess’s strange behavior.
“There is nothing that is keeping you from choosing to be the right kind of person.”
Agnes, however, wants out of Kaolin – so much so that she has submitted an application to a university in Pelago to study sciences, something she has a huge passion for. Since it’s forbidden for girls to do pretty much anything in Kaolin, she does this in secret – and even secures herself passage on a small ship so she can get there. However, Leo has a change of heart after Agnes bonds with Sera, and the two of them become determined to help her get back to her home.
Wow, that was long. And that’s not even a quarter of the stuff that happens in this book. Seriously, this is one of the most action-packed books I think I have read in forever, and I loved it. No boring moments, no unnecessary moments where things happen that didn’t really contribute to the story – it was all just perfect. The pacing, the characters – every. single. thing.
I think my all-time favorite part of this book is definitely the world-building. I absolutely adored how the author created the beautiful City Above the Sky. Picturing this is just gorgeous – I can’t get over how perfectly detailed it was. From the spinning of clouds to create beautiful clothing to the small dwellings that the Cerulean reside in, everything is painted wonderfully.
The characters were amazing – they were so well written! I know I say this a lot but I really mean it here – they all had their unique personalities that made them different from each other. Agnes and Leo, brother and sister, are so different – and I love Agnes. She is a woman in a place where women are not respected or allowed to do anything – and yet she still applies to a college in Pelago, where she is not permitted to go. She will do anything to secure her future, even book passage on a small ship against her father’s wishes. Leo, on the other hand, wants to be like his father and take over Xavier’s business in the beginning of the book, but by the end he realizes that he needs to be a good person, so he changes his ways.
The book does end on quite the cliffhanger, and since I make it a point to wait to start a series until at least more than one book is out, I’m extra glad I did that in this case, because I immediately dove into the second book.
If you love fantasy, DO NOT MISS OUT ON THIS. I just loved it oh so much. From that gorgeous cover to the beautiful writing to the exceptional story and characters, I can’t get over how great this book is.