REVIEW: Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau

Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau

Rating: ★ ★

Synopsis: Twins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the throne, the future of the kingdom was secure.

But appearances—and rivals—can be deceiving. When Eden’s king and crown prince are killed by assassins, Eden desperately needs a monarch, but the line of succession is no longer clear. With a ruling council scheming to gain power, Carys and Andreus are faced with only one option—to take part in a Trial of Succession that will determine which one of them is worthy of ruling the kingdom.

As sister and brother, Carys and Andreus have always kept each other safe—from their secrets, from the court, and from the monsters lurking in the mountains beyond the kingdom’s wall. But the Trial of Succession will test the bonds of trust and family.

With their country and their hearts divided, Carys and Andreus will discover exactly what each will do to win the crown. How long before suspicion takes hold and the thirst for power leads to the ultimate betrayal?

Genre: Fantasy

Review: When I saw this book on NetGalley and read the synopsis (and saw that cool cover), I was unbelievably pumped for this book. I’m always a sucker for a tournament and sibling relationship, so this sounded right up my alley. However, I only ended up incredibly disappointed.

Carys and Andreus are twins and the children of the King of Eden. When their father and older brother, the crown prince, are killed on a military mission, it is up to the council to decide how to choose the next ruler of Eden. The old writings dictate that should the rightful heir come down to two equal options, the two must compete in a tournament to win the throne. But both Carys and Andreus have dangerous secrets that could threaten their right to rule. Throughout love, betrayal, secrets, and trials, will Carys and Andreus remain close as they have always been, or will the competition tear them apart?

I’ll give you a hint: the answer is not the former. The beginning of this book was just as interesting as I had expected, which gave me false hope. But as things began to fall apart for the main characters to give way to conflict, so did the story as a whole.

I loved Carys and Dreus’s relationship at the start. It was obvious that, as twins, they had spent their lives looking out for one another, no matter the cost (especially for Carys). But when Andreus falls in love, he allows his feelings to drive a wedge between him and his twin and their relationship falls apart. While Carys is doing everything in her power to help Andreus win the throne, despite the many reasons he shouldn’t, he sabotages her, injures her, and ultimately intentionally leaves her for dead. The loss of their relationship was the greatest in this book.

I found this to read like a first draft. The story and world seemed to have many holes, which comes across as lazy on Charbonneau’s part. The book becomes difficult to follow, between the complexity of the castle the reader does not understand and the inconsistency of the characters and the plot. I had hoped for more romance, but the only romantic relationship was an unhealthy one the reader can’t stand and the other is too subtle to really be anything. There were so many things I had wanted more of in this book, and I sadly never got them.

One of the things that bugged me most about this book was the subtle sexism. Carys is a fairly progressive medieval-style princess, but the Seeress Imogen is a prime example of subtle sexism. While Andreus is very openly a ladies man who makes his rounds through the women of the palace without a second thought, Imogen is portrayed as a manipulatively sexual and evil person for being with two different men. I kept asking myself why does this make it seem okay for Andreus and not for Imogen? The double standard is outdated and tacky and I couldn’t move past it.

I kept reading this book hoping it would get better and pull itself together enough to make me want to read the second book, but I honestly have to say that I won’t be touching this again. Maybe the future books will be better than this one, but I was not left with enough faith after the first to have any will to read further. Ultimately one of the most disappointing books I’ve read all year, and I can’t say I recommend it.

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