July 24, 2024

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Mara Fitzgerald’s Debut, Beyond The Ruby Veil, Clocks In At A Rollicking 288 Pages Of Questionable, Extremely Thirsty Characters

Beyond The Ruby Veil (#1) By Mara Fitzgerald Review

If you missed it, which I certainly did. Mara Fitzgerald’s debut, Beyond the Ruby Veil, is the first in a duology. It wasn’t until the brutal last line that I dropped the book, screamed into the reader’s void, and realized there must be another book on the horizon. So, for those that might not know, now you know. There is a saying. When a person tells you who they are, listen. When Mara Fitzgerald blatantly tells you what her book is and who the main character is, listen. Don’t be fooled by the length, the title, or the category (young adult).

Beyond the Ruby Veil blisters its way through 288 pages leaving every character, reader, nook, and cranny, thoroughly scorched, bloody, and eviscerated. Also. Thirsty. Very, very thirsty. And Queer. Well. When the main character says fuck you and kills the witch that siphons blood to create the water everyone has to live off of? Thirst is an issue.

Oh. Wait. Did you think that thirsty? Well, that is on you. <buffs halo and puts it back on my head>

If you are shocked by this chaos, destruction, and complete lack of concern for all things that are logical? You just haven’t been paying attention to Mara Fitzgerald. Yes, I posted an interview on Monday, October 17th (linked), But long before that interview, she has made clear what Beyond the Ruby Veil was and was not. Also, proof I’m not spoiling anything talking about blood, eyes, and chaos.

Please see more reviews at the end of my review

Beyond the Ruby Veil By Mara Fitzgerald- Summary

After Emanuela Ragno kills the one person in Occhia who can create water, she must find a way to save her city from dying of thirst.

Cunning and unapologetic, Emanuela Ragno is a socialite who plays by her own rules. In her most ambitious move yet, she’s about to marry Alessandro Morandi, her childhood best friend and the heir to the wealthiest house in Occhia. Emanuela doesn’t care that she and her groom are both gay, because she doesn’t want a love match. She wants power, and through Ale, she’ll have it all.

But Emanuela has a secret that could shatter her plans. In her city of Occhia, the only source of water is the watercrea, a mysterious being who uses magic to make water from blood. When their first bruise-like omen appears on their skin, all Occhians must surrender themselves to the watercrea to be drained of life. Everyone throughout history has obeyed this law for the greater good. Everyone except Emanuela. She’s kept the tiny omen on her hip out of sight for years.

When the watercrea exposes Emanuela during her wedding ceremony and takes her to be sacrificed, Emanuela fights back…and kills her. Before everyone in Occhia dies of thirst, Emanuela and Ale must travel through the mysterious, blood-red veil that surrounds their city to uncover the source of the watercrea’s power and save their people—no matter what it takes.

Review Vs. Mara Fitzgerald- Now Enters Proof Via Tweets:

Mara Fitzgerald
if I saw Emanuela in real life I would do literally everything possible to avoid being in the same room as her.
Finished Beyond the Ruby Veil. I… did not realize there would be so many eyeballs in it. Emanuela is horrible and delightful and I would probably hate her in real life but boy did I love her in fiction!

Mara Fitzgerald
i just remembered she can pick locks tho so actually im getting in my car and leaving the country
Mara Fitzgerald
Mara Fitzgerald
my main character canonically has bad cramps bc I do too and I am NOT going to spoil the whole book this time but I’ll just say the whole book is bloody and has magic around blood and stuff so
Mara Fitzgerald
i’ve always been like “wow the word count of my debut is really short for a YA fantasy no matter what i do” but it’s been pointed out to me that this is why:


Best Things In Small Packages

Don’t ask me I’m just the reader that talks about twenty pages to describe a tree. Mara Fitzgerald is the anti-christ of all things that are those authors. Not only is she the anti-christ of all things that are those authors, but she is the angel to my bi-polar/ADD. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE.

pssst… yeah. you. You who doubt the impossibility of it all…
In 288 pages, Mara Fitzgerald manages to break ground on world-building, character development, and not just kicking off the plot but bringing it forward beyond where I would typically expect in the first book of a series. BUT WAIT. THERE’S MORE.
THAT MAGIC SYSTEM. It is the foundation of everything. Emanuela, the entire world, the foundation of the plot and it kicks off right in chapter 1. Mara Fitzgerald gives no fuck bucks on our ability to take one damn breath at the start of the book, let alone keep breathing right through the entirety of Beyond the Ruby Veil. Because you had better pay attention. Do not blink. Do not wander or stray. DON’T. MISS. ONE. DAMN. BEAT. With precision, it all builds in tandem, coherently. You’ll be too entranced by a thunderous plot to notice the intricate knots that bring this tapestry to life.

Emanuel Is Exuding Something And It Is Extra

You can say a lot of things about Emanuela. I mean A LOT of things. At some point in our lives, we all have one of those friends. When we go out with them, we know it will be a wild night. What we don’t know is if it will be wild, riding the right edge of fantastical, or if they will drive you just over that edge to drop you into the black hole of chaos, certain irrevocable destruction, and possible death. It is a coin flip every time. Yet, you go out with them, anyway. Don’t even deny it.

Here’s the thing. Emanuela is selfish. Even when she wants to fix things, she’s so blinded by the need to act that the road to hell is named Emanuela Highway. Unfortunately, Ale is the one paying the tolls while she breaks all the driving laws. It is the combination of selfish confidence that leads to something much worse, though.

Mara Fitzgerald’s agent of chaos is written on a foundation of this perceived immortality. From the beginning of Beyond the Ruby Veil, she builds Emanuela’s immunity to death as a core piece of her personality. As such, it is clearly a driving force in a multitude of decisions. Even worst, it drives decisions she makes not just for herself, but ones that impact the entirety of Occhia. She projects this perception of immortality on them. Consequently, if she can handle <insert x> without consequence, so can Occhia.

If she refuses to die. She can’t refuse to die. Well, then, OF COURSE, Occhia won’t die. Of course, Occhia can die.

And just because she kills the watercrea that siphons the blood of those with the omen… hits pause

Beyond the Ruby Veil By Mara Fitzgerald Review

Thank you to Mara Fitzgerald for an ARC of Beyond the Ruby Veil in exchange for an honest review.

-But of course, Emanuela had the omen and didn’t sacrifice herself, because she’s Emanuela and but duh. The rules don’t apply to her. She can’t die. They can’t take her blood. 

Emanuela. The rules apply. You should sacrifice. The rules apply to you. Your blood can be siphoned.

hits play

… siphons the blood of those with the omen to make water for the city of Occhia, so they may survive. So, when Emanuela kills the watercrea to escape the fate of everyone before her that did their duty? She can only think that the watercrea got what she deserved. Occhia can find another way and that Emanuela could go on with her life. Of course, she does because right from when she was little and her Omen was first found at the age of seven, she believed it. Now it is the foundation of everything that she’s become.

‘I’m not going to die… Because I don’t want to.’

I was completely healthy when my omen appeared on my hip. It just showed up out of nowhere, for no reason at all. Of course, I didn’t turn myself over to the tower. My sickness couldn’t kill me. One little mark on my skin wasn’t going to kill me, either.

Nothing is going to kill me. I won’t let it.

Ale Needs Some Ale

If Emanuela is that one friend, then Ale is that other friend that you bring out even though you know he is going to be the one that is scared of doing anything and everything.

Ale and Emanuela, life-long best friends who authentically care deeply for each other and will do anything for each other. Anything but sacrifice herself to the tower so her blood can be siphoned for water, in Emanuela’s case. But anything else. Betrothed as a power couple neither expecting more as Emanuela is aware and accepting of Ale’s preference for men. Emanuela is on a bit shakier ground. Not that she isn’t aware of her preference, but Mara Fitzgerald deftly uses this as a point of rare insight to Emanuela’s insecure side.

Just the other day, Chiara Bianchi and I had been alone in a garden alcove, and in the middle of sniping at each other, she’d faltered and looked at me in a strange way. And I’d felt… something. But I didn’t know what to do with it. I wasn’t prepared for it. So, I turned away. I preferred to keep those feelings locked up. I couldn’t let them out in my bedroom., late at night, not around a real girl- a girl who could betray me or discover my omen, or worst of all, decide I was unremarkable and treat me just like everyone else.

Of Beyond the Ruby Veil’s strengths Ale and Emanuela are on the top of the list. Their push-and-pull dynamic, the dialogue, and how they both change throughout the book, and I can’t wait to see what happens after the events that ended Mara Fitzgerald’s debut. Having that power couple turned Bonnie and Clyde with a desperate mission drags readers through a cycle of emotions.

Beyond Occhia/Wrap-Up/Summary

I don’t want to say too much about what happens once Ale and Emanuela leave Occhia. Mara Fitzgerald does go into a bit of it, in-depth in the interview I linked above. I think she did it greater justice than my review could ever do. And this review is threatening to beat the length of the book -_-

Plus, there is a definite first and second act to Beyond the Ruby Veil. And while the initial departure from Occhia is still a part of that first act. Around chapters 15 and 16, it jumps from a train careening out of control to a bloody, violent, deafening sonic-boom. And once that line is crossed, there is no going back. Just when you think Mara Fitzgerald has no room to go, nowhere to up the ante, heighten the intensity, or ratchet up the pressure…

Well. Like I said at the beginning of this review. If you didn’t have any idea of what you were getting into with Emanuela and Beyond the Ruby Veil…

Well… you just weren’t paying attention

PS… The last sentence. 

Michael Che Weekend Update

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