When I find myself going through a reading lull, I try to pick up a fast-paced, nerve-wracking, and suspenseful book. I look for a compulsive read. I try to find a book that can transport me to an entirely different world. A book that contains an insane amount of knowledge laid out in a simplistic way. So, I picked up Amy McCulloch’s The Oathbreaker’s Shadow for my first Random House read for June.
In the world of fifteen-year-old Raim, you tie a knot for every promise you make. Break that promise and the knot will burst into flames, scarring your skin and forever marking you as an oathbreaker. Raim has worn a simple knot around his wrist for as long as he can remember. No one seems to know where it came from or which promise it symbolizes, and Raim barely thinks about it at all—especially not since he became the most promising young fighter ever to train for the elite Yun guard. But on the day that he binds his life to that of his best friend (and the future king), Khareh, the rope ignites and sears a dark mark into his skin. Scarred now as an oathbreaker, Raim has two options: run or be killed. He chooses to run, taking refuge in the vast desert among a colony of exiled oathbreakers. Will he be able to learn the skills he needs to clear his name? And even if he can, how can he keep a promise he never knew he made in the first place?
What I loved about this fantasy YA novel was how developed and well thought out the story was. Every detail about this other world, this world with tribes and sacred vows, this world with magic and exile, was written to the point that it felt real. I believed it. I loved the idea of keeping a promise — of taking a vow and being punished if you broke it. I love how the author plays with the idea of breaking the rules and seeing how long you can get away with it. I love the fact that Raim had to create his own path, to make his own choices, and to live with the consequences. I also love the bit of romance in the novel (I’m a sucker for a good love story).
I lost myself in this novel for a solid three hours and wouldn’t stop reading until I reached the last page. This novel is so much more than you’d think and I was amazed at how deep and profound it really is. You go on this incredibly harrowing journey with Raim; you suffer, you fail, you break, and you keep going. You grow up and learn much more from his experience than you would have guessed. When you get to the end you’re excited that there’s an epilogue, an ending — until you read it and realize there’s a whole lot more to the story.
“Don’t you think those they betrayed might forgive rather than sending them into exile? Not every betrayal runs so deep, yet all broken oaths are treated the same.” (Page 295)
If you’re interested in picking up a novel as addictive as The Hunger Games and as intense as Blood Red Road, The Oathbreaker’s Shadow comes out today!