Cassa, Alys, Newt, and Evander had a plan. It wasn’t a great one, but it would do. And then Vesper, the fifth member of their rebellious little group, betrayed them all ... On the surface, Beneath the Citadel is an action-adventure novel that’s part heist and part teenage rebellion. But beneath its tropey top layer is a catacomb of heavy topics and social commentary. Hard truths lurk in the shadows of each word sentence, in the dark corners of each page, in the caverns of each chapter. You’ve read other YA fantasies just like this one…until suddenly you realize there’s nothing else quite like it ... A novel about corrupted and selfish power, about the voiceless speaking out demanding change, about the marginalized creating a better future in spite of a system set up to crush them, well, if that isn’t apropos of our current political climate then I don’t know what is. Beneath the Citadel was the perfect read for election season.
When this fantasy novel begins, the main characters have already been arrested for capital crimes, some of them have already dated and broken up, and key members of their rebel group have already betrayed each other or died. It makes for a dramatic opening, but Soria has to spend the rest of the book filling in the background ... The story begins to feel like it ought to be the second book in a series, the sequel to a novel that was never written, but it’s the rare sequel that’s genuinely satisfying. The action is fast-paced, when it isn’t being interrupted with flashbacks and exposition ... This is a thrilling adventure story. It would be twice as thrilling if it were split in two.
The story starts out with four teenagers—Cassa, Evander, Alys and Newt—going before the council to have their fate determined; they have been caught breaking into the Citadel (the seat of power of the Council), an offense punishable by death. Each of them had their own role to play and will be punished accordingly ... At times, this novel was a struggle to finish as the narrative seemed to hit regular lulls—these were quickly forgotten once the story hit a point of action ... Overall, Beneath the Citadel is a well written entry into the world of YA fantasy. The character development, relationships, and fast pacing throughout the majority make it an enjoyable read with the worldbuilding greatly influencing potential enjoyment of the tale. While the sexual orientation of at least two major players may be seen as unacceptable within mainstream fiction by some, I would strongly recommend at least giving it a go.