Eighteen-year-old Rory is a cake decorator who makes stunning confections. But no amount of frosting or miracles can save her when a demon kidnaps her—and carries her to Palladino. Here, Rory ends up in a deadly charm school where young women are forced to become companions for the Ghost Lords. And for her to survive, Rory must become everything that she isn’t: graceful, elegant… and perfect.
But nothing is what it seems in Palladino. Not the magic. Not the ghosts. And definitely not Martin Marius, the bizarre Ghost Lord-slash-inventor who is drawn to Rory. For amid a thousand machines and a hundred cats, Martin holds a secret that could change everything. A secret that could either free Rory… or destroy her.
Rory was a wonderfully imaginative read. Palladino is not your normal afterlife: it’s a beautiful city for ghosts who were afraid to move on, and who require human companions to remind them of what living was like. In some ways, this book reminded me of The Selection: young girls move into a castle to be trained, and only the top girls move on to the next “round.” Of course, the young ladies at the charm school have to learn far more interesting things than proper etiquette, which is where some really neat creations come into play. Cho’s background as a graphic designer is evident in the vivid descriptions of Palladino; they were so much fun to visualize and made it quite easy to get lost in this enchanting world.
Aside from her overuse of the word “alas,” Rory is a wonderful narrator with just the right amount of snark in her “voice.” She’s brave, impulsive and strong, yet also vulnerable and insecure. And the fact that she bakes and decorates cakes for a living is really neat – aside from Peeta, I haven’t seen many YA protagonists who do that.
The secondary characters are just as well-developed and intriguing. I really liked Manny the skine and the Ghost Lord Martin, though Cookie the talking cat stole the show whenever he was in a scene. I can’t wait to explore more of these characters’ histories in future books.
I can’t finish my review of Rory without mentioning the cover, which was designed by Cho himself. It’s absolutely gorgeous and relevant to the story.
Overall, Rory was a really enjoyable, inventive read. It may have been the first book that I’ve read by Ciye Cho, but it certainly won’t be the last. I look forward to reading the sequel!
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.