Book Review: The Jewel by Amy Ewing

This is how the Jewel operates. Status is our sole occupation. Gossip is our currency.

The Jewel

In the Lone City, the nobility are unable to have children so to continue their royal lines, girls from the Marsh called surrogates are trained and sold to the highest bidder to carry their children. Violet is one of those girls, and she’s about to stumble into the beautiful chaos of noble life.

In case you didn’t know, I love stories about nobility and magic and corruption. So naturally, I was completely engrossed in Violet’s story from the first page. Within a day I had read past page 200 and I was sure I would finish it if I didn’t slow down and pace myself. I don’t know why I devoured this story so quickly. The writing wasn’t anything grandoise and beautiful, the characters were pretty shallow (with the exception of a few) and the romance made me sigh and roll my eyes. Yet, I still managed to finish this book completely sold by the world. It seems I have a thing for catty noblewomen…?

Let’s talk about the characters. Violet, our protagonist, was mostly great to read. She reminded me a bit of Katniss — except for the complete lack of the range of human emotion and feeling in Katniss. However, Violet did irritate me when it came to the romance. I even can’t really mention why without spoilers so I’ll leave it up to you to discover on your own. Some of the other characters also reminded me of characters from The Hunger Games. Something I didn’t like that much. Usually I have no problem with similar stories or characters but when it’s as obvious to me as this was I think it’s a problem, intentional or not. Violet’s family mimicked Katniss’, Lucien reminded me of Cinna, and very early on, the man who ran the auction was described very much like the tv guy who did the talk shows during the Games (Stanley Tucci’s character). However the good thing about these similarities is that they’re mostly gone once the Auction is done.

By far my favorite characters were Violet, Raven and the Duchess of the Lake. Violet and the Duchess were the central characters and carried the story on their backs (with Lucien, but because of his similarity to Cinna I wasn’t strongly affected by him), but from the time I read the sample I loved Raven’s spunk and attitude toward their situation. It broke my heart to see her as the story went on. I’m totally thrilled to be getting a novella this July that tells her story. As for the Duchess, some people might not have liked her and that’s understandable, she was pretty awful sometimes. I still can’t help but wonder what made her that way. We’re told a little but I’m sure there’s more to it and I’m desperately hoping for a character novella on her. Maybe between TWR and book 3? Please?

Another thing that stood out to me was the magic in this book. While the Lone City resembles a dystopian city, magic does exist. It may be limited to the surrogates, but it’s there. Sadly the Auguries (the type of magic) don’t play that big a role in TJL but it seems that will change in TWR. I can only hope.

The story itself fell short in comparison to the characters. It didn’t do that well in standing out but it is my belief that this book was simply foundation and the story is going to pick up significantly from the next installment. Hopefully, Amy Ewing focuses more on the happenings and less on the romance because in my opinion, it was the weakest part of the book. I honestly felt it could have been left out and nothing would have changed. In fact, Violet would have been way better off. But, what’s done is done and I’m not the one writing the series.

We all read and experienced Violet’s time in the Jewel, later this year we get to see Raven’s side of the story in The House of Stone due in July. Then the second book in the series, The White Rose, hits shelves in October. Excuse me while I stare at the calendar until these releases (and pretend to be a nobleman in my bathroom mirror).

– GJA

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