[I received an advanced digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]
Hanna is an innocent girl on the cusp of her 18th birthday, unaware of her own beauty and confused by the lascivious looks and hateful glares she receives from the men and women in her small community. Although she has been raised to know what is in store for her immediately after her birthday (becoming the fifth wife of a man more than twice her age), she has insofar been able to push that knowledge to the back of her mind, concentrating on the care of her multitudinous younger siblings amidst the dysfunction and violence of her abusive father.
She has always been an easygoing and dutiful daughter, but as her wedding day looms closer and she learns some truths about her past, she begins to feel the doom creep in, along with a sense that–beyond the obvious–she is not where she is meant to be. She befriends someone who has just come back from “the City” who makes her dream of a different life than what is offered in Clearhaven, but she has to decide if making the leap to grasp that dream is worth the price.
This story centers around a patriarchal polygamous society which controls its citizens using a warped form of religion and fear. The older men in charge use their power to benefit themselves, including banishing most of the young men from the town so there is less competition, allowing them to accumulate numerous wives.
There is a magical element involved which added some interest to the story and did help keep the pacing and suspense up even while Hanna was hemming and hawing about what she wanted to do, but the magic fizzled out a bit and wasn’t used as much as it could have been. In particular, I had questions about the dramatic use of wolves at the beginning of the book and, of course, the questions surrounding where Hanna truly came from. Some questions were left unanswered leaving this story open for a potential follow-up; however, the ending was tied up enough to be happy with just this one book.
I enjoyed this enough to want to rush back to it in between the busyness of life, which is part of my reasoning behind boosting it to 4 stars. I think this will be a big hit with the older YA crowd, although it should be labeled as such as it does touch on some edgier topics which might not be appropriate for younger readers.