In CLAIMED by Nicole Adamz, a world of beauty hides vicious and grasping schemes. For two women caught in the middle, everything dear is at stake.

I first came across this author on Instagram, although she has since apparently deleted her account. My first impression of her was simply kindness– as a complete stranger, she commented on my post about a particularly bad day to offer comfort. 

Over time, reading the excerpts from CLAIMED as she posted them, I became intrigued. When I got my birthday money from my dad (yes, I’m an adult!) this was the first thing I spent it on. I’m pleased to say I did not regret this purchase! CLAIMED by Nicole Adamz is intense from start to finish, and I can’t wait to read the sequel, ENVOY.

Read on for a brief description of the book and my complete review!

 

 

CLAIMED by Nicole Adamz

CLAIMED by Nicole Adamz tells the story of a world saturated in beauty but full of ugliness and ambition beneath the surface.

We are given two main characters: Maewyn, whose outward loveliness and gaiety exemplify everything her society treasures, and Ari—considered ugly and abnormal, but full of noble and selfless intentions that most around her scorn. These present a striking foil not only to each other, but to the backdrop full of underhandedness and nihilism.

Seeking a way to gain freedom for the slave woman who raised her, Ari is paired to Maewyn as a sort of apprentice of magic and entertainment, but finds herself increasingly hopeless in her secret quest and also increasingly at risk. Her beliefs make her a target of deadly persecution, and through Maewyn’s appointments Ari is exposed to terrifying people of power and mercilessness.

Maewyn, while chipper and gorgeous on the outside, is full of turmoil and haunted by past trauma and the inescapable will of her cruel family, who see her as their ticket into noble circles. She hates deceiving her dear friend Ari as their puppet and the things they force her to do, but lives under an endless pressure of very real fear. Her desire to rise above their evil and gain autonomy push her into decisions which blur the lines of right and wrong.

Trigger Warning: 

While this book does a good job avoiding the sexually explicit and prolonged graphic scenes, there is a lot of very adult subject matter. Sex is bartered frequently and there is a detailed scene of attempted rape. 

 

What I Liked

The characters are so real and three dimensional. Every move they make, whether good or bad, is perfectly derived from a fully-fleshed mixture of personality, circumstances, and motivations. Even the minor characters, for the most part, are very well developed.

The world-building is complete and layered, both physically and culturally. There is just enough explanation and just enough mystery. The setting—and this is something I just don’t see enough—is a character in its own right, interacting with the cast and dictating their limit of choices.

What I Didn’t Like

The beginning was a bit difficult to get through. The author provides a brief glossary of names and locations, but it lacks any further world-specific vocabulary. There are a lot of invented terms in this story, on par for the genre, but since the introduction of these words was rather dense it didn’t leave room for a lot of contextual clarification (although it’s not completely lacking). An expansion of the glossary might have been helpful.

There were also some somewhat distracting formatting issues. Particularly if you have a pet peeve about overused italics, be ready to overlook it if you want to enjoy this story.

 

Claimed: A 

Writer’s Analysis

Nicole Adamz broke some cardinal rules of the publishing industry right from the outset: she starts with a prologue, and the first chapter is a dream sequence. Writers hoping to publish traditionally should do everything they can to avoid that in a debut. Established, selling authors can get away with it, but this kind of opening is not the way to land your first agent.

What Nicole Adamz does really, really well is character and plot development. Boy, is this story twisty. The suspense doesn’t let up for a second—every page and paragraph is full of stakes which climb and climb. Every person and every class of people is given a background, a goal, and a distinct moral set. Every act of the main characters, big or small, right or wrong, is fully sympathetic and understandable. You want to just cry out and beg sometimes for a character to not do a thing, to not fall into the trap—but deep inside, it scares you a little to know that if you were in such a position, you might respond exactly the same.

 

Have you read CLAIMED by Nicole Adamz? Have a book to recommend to me? Let me know!

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