Auctioned as a surrogate to the highest bidder.
Imprisoned in the opulent palace of the Duchess of the Lake.
Destined to carry the child of a woman she despises.
Upon reading the blurb for this novel, I was excited to read another dystopic tale reminiscent of one of my favourites – The Handmaid’s Tale. This is the first in a new trilogy by Amy Ewing of which I have read mixed reviews. Some will love it. Some will hate it. I will go on to explain why.
The Jewel tells the story of Violet, one of the ‘chosen’ women born with special abilities and sold to be surrogates for the royals. Children born with the auguries (powers) of colour, shape and growth are taken away from their families and held in a special facility before being auctioned off. Early on we find out that Violet is a much sought after surrogate and the Duchess of the Lake buys her for 6 million diamantes.
Throughout the story, Amy Ewing refers to the different houses in the royal circle. This was sometimes confusing and the book could have done with a family tree style map at the front to explain this clearly to the reader. There is much competition between the women from these different houses but they all have the same common goal – to obtain a daughter who will be chosen to marry the future Exetor and succeed to the throne.
The Duchess of the Lake demands that Violet produce a daughter who is beautiful, smart, strong, ambitious, determined, courageous and of, course, irresistible. However, the thing she wants more than anything is a daughter born first, before any others, and Violet is instructed to use her third augury to make this happen – a three month pregnancy instead of the usual nine.
Up until this point, I absolutely loved this story which addresses some interesting themes such as slavery and class. However, there was a palm to the forehead moment when suddenly, plucked from nowhere, Violet falls in love with a boy in the palace named Ash. I won’t bother explaining who he is and why he was there because quite frankly his existence and role in the story was ludicrous. This forced romance was entirely unbelievable and detracted from the main focus of the story. I am sure people will love the romantic twist to this tale but unfortunately I would have much preferred this story without it.
Violet’s relationship with her friend, Raven, however was believable and really made the reader empathise with the situation these young girls are in. I had mixed opinions about the Duchess of the Lake and found myself wondering who would be a good actress to play her in a movie of The Jewel. At times she appeared kind and caring towards Violet but there is always an underlying evil that Ewing subtly reveals throughout.
Vomit inducing love story aside, this is still a very good dystopic tale with a brilliant ending that will leave you wanting to read the next installment. And who knows, maybe Ash will get killed off in the next one…