Carys and Andreus are princess and prince of Eden and twins. With an older brother set to take the throne after their father dies, neither is planning to rule the kingdom, both are just trying to survive royal life and maybe eek out something for themselves. Andreus was born with some sort of ailment (it’s never really specified, but maybe epilepsy) and Carys has spent her life trying to protect him and ensure that his illness remains a secret, less the court and the kingdom believe he is cursed. When their father and brother are killed Carys and Andreus find themselves competing for the throne in a series of trials. With power up for grabs and a council with their own plans it’s impossible for Carys and Andreus to know who they can trust outside of each other, although Andreus is ready to throw his faith behind the beautiful seer, Imogen, who was betrothed to his now dead brother. Can their loyalty to each other survive and bring the kingdom through the trials in tact?
The court in Dividing Eden is not a happy court. Carys and Andreus are bred to trust no one and have a strong hard edge, always. Carys has faced the worst of this, protecting Andreus when needed, receiving floggings and struggling with addiction. Andreus seems the obvious choice for king, smart and empathetic to subjects who are hurt and disgarded. But the possibility of actual power can change everything. I really enjoyed the darkness of this world and the unscrupulousness of many of the characters. Even with some love interests floating in the air motives and loyalties are never fully uncovered.
It takes several chapters for this book to get going. The beginning drags and suffers from repetition (we get it, Andreus has some secret affliction, let’s name it and move on), but once I got through the beginning and onto the trials, I found the world and Carys captivating enough, that I wanted to figure out who was working for who, what their motives were and how the trials would end. Only a few of these things are resolved by the end. This book may have its flaws, but I already plan on reading the next installment by Charbonneau to find out where it goes.