Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: Available Now
Synopsis: In the Alskad Empire, nearly all are born with a twin, two halves to form one whole…yet some face the world alone.
A rare few are singleborn in each generation, and therefore given the right to rule by the gods and goddesses. Bo Trousillion is one of those few, born into the royal line and destined to rule. Though he has been chosen to succeed his great-aunt, Queen Runa, as the leader of the Alskad Empire, Bo has never felt equal to the grand future before him.
When one twin dies, the other usually follows, unable to face the world without their other half. Those who survive are considered diminished, doomed to succumb to the violent grief that inevitably destroys everyone whose twin has died. Such is the fate of Vi Abernathy, whose twin sister died in infancy. Raised by the anchorites of the temple after her family cast her off, Vi has spent her whole life scheming for a way to escape and live out what’s left of her life in peace.
As their sixteenth birthday approaches, Bo and Vi face very different futures—-one a life of luxury as the heir to the throne, the other years of backbreaking work as a temple servant. But a long-held secret and the fate of the empire are destined to bring them together in a way they never could have imagined.
The Diminished is a fabulous beginning to an as of yet, untitled duology. The chapters alternate between the two main characters, both who I found equally fascinating. I loved the way Bo being gay was depicted so matter of factly. There is no bigotry in this world regarding sexual identity. It’s an accepted part of society. Neither is there any racism. Unfortunately there is bigotry toward the “diminished”, those who have lost a twin. So, not only do they go through the heartbreak of losing their other half, but then they’re treated with abject cruelty. This is most detailed in Vi’s chapters and it can be tough reading at times. While it seems as though Bo and Vi have nothing in common, as the story continues their lives converge in the most interesting ways.
The world building is rich in detail and I loved how the Alskad Empire shares societal issues that mirror those found in the real world. Between that and the characters, I was completely enthralled throughout the entire story. I’m looking forward to seeing where the next book takes things. I highly recommend The Diminished for older teens and adults who are looking for a fantasy that’s unique and exciting.