The Cerulean by Amy Ewing was the feature book in Unicorn Crate’s February box and I was soooo excited! For starters, the cover on this book is STUNNING! Blue is my favorite color and this cover has rich dark blues and bright silvers and ohemgee I love it!!!! I have only read one of Amy’s books in the past (The Jewel) and I remember very little of it, so I went into this read with no expectations or assumptions. I did not check out the Goodreads reviews before I read it and I am glad of it – while there were LOTS of great reviews, there were ample hateful ones discussing certain aspects of the plot (I’ll touch briefly on that later) and I feel like they would have colored by experience. I make it a point NOT to read negative reviews beforehand, and this is a great example of why. Before I delve too much further, lets get a quick summary!
Sera has always felt as if she didn’t belong among her people, the Cerulean. She is curious about everything and can’t stop questioning her three mothers, her best friend, Leela, and even the High Priestess. Sera has longed for the day when the tether that connects her City Above the Sky to the earthly world below finally severs and sends the Cerulean to a new planet.
But when Sera is chosen as the sacrifice to break the tether, she doesn’t know what to feel. To save her City, Sera must throw herself from its edge and end her own life. But something goes wrong and she survives the fall, landing in a place called Kaolin. She has heard tales about the humans there, and soon learns that the dangers her mothers warned her of are real. If Sera has any hope to return to her City, she’ll have to find the magic within herself to survive.
Summary courtesy of Goodreads.
I loved this book from beginning to end. One of the hallmarks of a good book for me is if it has the ability to bring on the feels. With The Cerulean I cried some pretty hefty tears half a dozen times in the first 1/4 of the book. The author really knows how to write some heartache and loss! I then cried another half dozen times over the other 3/4, just to even things out. So good.
The main character, Sera, was a delight to follow. She is vibrant and curious and determined. Finding herself alone in a hostile world she knows nothing about, she still adapts and overcomes. Her relationship with her best friend Leela was amazing and responsible for many of the tears. When it comes to light that Sera may have survived her sacrificial jump off the plant, Leela stops at nothing to try and find a way to get her back, even working with one of Sera’s mothers and uncovering corruption within their own people.
The City Above the Sky was magical and fantastical and felt like something straight out of Disney’s Fantasia. I loved how it was made up entirely of females and that families are made up of three mothers, designated as Green Mother (in charge of teaching), Orange Mother (the pious one), and Purple Mother (those who actually give birth). The bond between Sera and her mothers is so poignant and the loss they all felt and suffered from was heartbreaking to read.
I mentioned before about the hateful reviews, and 100% of them had to do with this part of the plot. Apparently when the publisher first announced the book back in like 2016, they called it a “Sapphic Utopia” and played up the all-females-three-moms bit to the point where people were LIVID that the story featured a hetero MC and didn’t play up the “sapphic” bits. For starters, the publisher blurb also said the book was about a place that sacrificed a girl every 100 years, which is zero percent true. The fact that people based their opinions off a description developed when the book rights were purchased, and not the actual plot of the book, makes me want to roll my eyes hard. This book had sooooo many more things going on, and had some AWESOME characters who were gay, but that was not the point of the book and it’s too bad people let that ruin things for them.
MOVING ON, let’s talk about our other characters! Not only did we get the POVs of Sera and Leela, but we also met Leo and Agnes, twins from Kaolin. Their father owns a “freak show” and Sera, with her blue hair and silver skin, becomes his main attraction. When he discovers that Sera’s blood can heal, he is hell bent on exploiting that for all it’s worth. He is Not A Good Man.
Leo is a total jerk for a good chunk of the book, striving to impress his jackass of a father (it doesn’t work, btw). I enjoyed his story arc as he starts to see how wrong and awful his father really is, and realizes he needs to forge his own path and do the right things. Agnes suffers even more so under her domineering father (who literally tells her he wishes she’d been a boy) and the society that classifies her as a possession. Kaolin is a male-dominated and very rigid country, the antithesis of the City Above the Sky. Pair this with the fact that Agnes prefers women to men, and she lives a life hiding her true self at every turn. It is she who first determines to help Sera and I enjoyed her immensely through the book.
There is so much more to this story, but I can’t possibly do it justice! All I can do is recommend you check out this rich and vibrant story and fall in love with it just as much as I have. I will be over here anxiously awaiting the sequel.
To purchase The Cerulean, follow this link.
MANY thanks to Constance from @imagery.in.pages and Amber from @read_by_a.cave for the use of their lovely photos for this review. Please check out their respective Instagram accounts by clicking the images above, or following the links I’ve embedded into their names. 😉