The start of a fierce fantasy duology about three maidens who are chosen for their land's greatest honor...and one girl determined to save her sister from the grave.
In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame.
When Alu's ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honor. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her.
But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is—a death sentence.
Desperate to save her sister, Kammani schemes her way into the palace to heal the ruler. There she discovers more danger lurking in the sand-stone corridors than she could have ever imagined and that her own life—and heart—are at stake. But Kammani will stop at nothing to dig up the palace’s buried secrets even if it means sacrificing everything…including herself.
"A dark and utterly enthralling journey to an ancient land, Gravemaidens grabs you by your beating heart and refuses to let go until the bitter, breathtaking end."—Sarah Glenn Marsh, author of the Reign of the Fallen series
In this accessible, Sumerian-inspired fantasy debut, Kammani, a 16-year-old healer's apprentice, must cure the dying monarch of her city-state and catch a murderer to protect her family. After Kammani's father, the best healer in Alu, fails to save the royal son's life, the palace seizes Kammani's brother, along with the family's wealth and status. The crushing heartbreak grows with Kammani's mother's death, and Kammani's father becomes an alcoholic, leaving Kammani to care for him, his practice, and Nanaea, her younger sister. Then, Nanaea is selected as one of three Sacred Maidens to accompany the dying ruler, the lugal, into the afterlife. To save her sister, Kammani must heal the lugal, but there's a saboteur in the court. An uneven tone and shaky worldbuilding result in stilted prose and unexplained plot points. Still, the concept and mystery are compelling, the pace brisk, and Coon succeeds in showing how grief molds people in different ways. The conclusion effectively avoids a cliffhanger while preparing readers for the subsequent book in this planned duology. Ages 14 up.