The Jewel is the first book in Amy Ewing’s The Lone City series. The story’s protagonist, Violet Lasting, was born in The Lone City’s poorest caste—the Marsh. Select girls born in the Marsh have a strange mutation that makes them invaluable to The Lone City’s royalty. Violet has this mutation. She is able to carry royal children to term as a surrogate; this is key as royal women have lost the ability to bear their own children.
At a young age Violet is taken from her family and trained to become a surrogate. Part of Violet’s mutation and ability as a surrogate is control over the auguries—color, shape and growth. These auguries are initially presented as abilities ideal to carrying a child, but by the end of The Jewel the extent of Violet’s power comes into question.
The novel opens with Reckoning Day, the first time Violet is allowed to see her family in four years, but also the last. This is done in preparation for the Auction—where royals will bid on the year’s crop of surrogates. Violet is sold to the Duchess of the Lake and her journey into the Jewel, The Lone City’s highest circle, begins.
Violet soon realizes all that glitters is not gold. The Jewel and its royals are cruel. Alliances are formed and plots put into play. No one is safe and Violet needs an out. And she is offered one, under the condition that she behaves and plays the part of a subordinate surrogate.
But then she meets Ash—a hired companion for the Duchess’ dreadful niece. A forbidden romance breaks out and Violet’s escape is put in jeopardy.
I was drawn to The Jewel because of the forced surrogacy aspect. It made the novel completely different in regards to other YA dystopian plots I’ve heard. And while The Jewel isn’t as violent as other dystopian books, like The Hunger Games and Divergent series, it is just as horrifying.
I also really enjoyed the addition of the auguries. I don’t fully understand the implication of Violet’s abilities, but I think the slight crossover into the fantasy genre is unique and gives Violet some tangible power against her enemies.
What didn’t work for me was the relationship between Violet and Ash. I’m okay with there being a romance, but Ewing failed to create buildup and it came off as insta-love. There weren’t any swoon worthy moments, and I ended up somewhat indifferent to their relationship.
Despite my reservations about the romance I enjoyed the story, and after a cliffhanger ending I immediately started reading The White Rose, the second book in the series.
You can find The Jewel on Amazon. Give it a read and let me know what you think in the comments!