Firstly, a fore-warning. This review is going to be extremely fangirl-y. I initially tried writing this review as soon as a I finished the book, but my thoughts and emotions were all over the place and nothing I wrote made any sense. So, I let it simmer for a while.
Let's get down to business
(to defeat the Huns).
I saw this book at the library and pulled it off the shelf because of the title and checked it out because of the back cover (which I can't find a picture of) but it's a dark, gloomy looking forest with just the words "I am forbidden from telling." typed across it.
Basically the blurb made it sound like a crime novel set in modern-ish times. Boy was I wrong.
I think this would be a very hard book to put in a genre. It's got romance, but it's definitely not a romance novel. It has war, but it's not a war novel. It has crime/mystery, but it's not a work of crime fiction. It's kind of got an aspect of everything. So I really liked that because it kept everything really fresh and intriguing and it tied it all together so neatly. Also, it's set in like more Coloniel times, which is great because it adds all these other aspects. Like marriage and war and religion and they wear frocks and suspenders and such.
The voice in this book is very different for two reasons; 1) it's written from the perspective of an 18 year old girl who has had her tongue cut out, so you get all this insight into the things she wishes she could say, but doesn't. And 2) it's written to her childhood friend, Lucas. So it's always like "You halted when you saw me watching you, and waved. You almost looked frightened. I waved back, and you came to me."
Judith experiences tough love from her mother. Her father died of grief shortly after she was kidnapped. And her brother is book smart, but not gun smart. Everyone in town kind of ignores her because they assume she's dumb, but she hears everything and is super observant. She's had a pretty sucky life and the suckiness continues through the book, but not once does she complain. HUZZAH!!! A victory for female protagonists everywhere. It's also kind of sad because she accepts it all, like maybe it was her fault and she deserved it. Which is absolutely not true. But Judith is seriously the coolest. She's no damsel in distress, is all I'm saying. Not only that, but she always has some very insightful things to say (or not say. Sorrynotsorry). See the following quotes.
"If I thought I could never love you more, I didn't understand you well enough." (The cuteness levels of this quote are overwhelming, but not totally cheesy like a lot of romantic sentiments.
"An eye for an eye won't leave you with much." Before you say that this quote is lame and kind of pretentious, you need to know that she said it with sarcasm. She's really good at sarcasm which is maybe why i relate to her so much.
"What are you about today?
Why do I care?
This will be a new amputation. You've been a part of my flesh, underneath all my skin. Your removal will bleed and leave me lame for a time."
This is (SPOILER) when she decides that she needs to stop caring about Lucas. This is how she describes it.
Everything beyond this point is spoilerific. Read at your own risk.
And it's the relationship between Judith and Lucas that really propels the story. Because at first it's friendship and he understands her without her having to talk. Then she saves his butt, then she's all "stop being ridiculous. You can love him all you want, but he deserves someone better than me, so I'm just not going to say anything (see what I did there? It's a pun)." Then Creep McCreepy tries to marriage Judith and Lucas realises "Hey, this girl. I like this one. I think Imma keep her." But everyone's like "Woah, dude you can't do that because your dad kidnapped her and cut out her tongue and we think you were conspiring with him and that'd just be all sorts of wrong." And then she has to learn to talk again so she can prove her innocence. It's really dramatic.
And I just got so overhwhelmed by it all that I started biting my nails and I NEVER bite my nails (that's just ehh), but this time I did because the shipper feels and the cuteness and the drama and tenseness. It was just too much to handle.