Every year for the past fifty-four years, the residents of Pinsbury Port receive a mysterious letter inviting all eligible-aged boys to compete for an esteemed scholarship to the all-male Stemwick University. Every year, the poorer residents look to see that their names are on the list. The wealthier look to see how likely their sons are to survive. And Rhen Tellur opens it to see if she can derive which substances the ink and parchment are created from, using her father’s microscope.
In the province of Caldon, where women are trained in wifely duties and men are encouraged into collegiate education, sixteen-year-old Rhen Tellur wants nothing more than to become a scientist. As the poor of her seaside town fall prey to a deadly disease, she and her father work desperately to find a cure. But when her Mum succumbs to it as well? Rhen decides to take the future into her own hands—through the annual all-male scholarship competition.
With her cousin, Seleni, by her side, the girls don disguises and enter Mr. Holm’s labyrinth, to best the boys and claim the scholarship prize. Except not everyone’s ready for a girl who doesn’t know her place. And not everyone survives the maze.
This books speaks to my soul. I’m feeling so dang empowered, honestly. Also. I’m like, having trouble wording right now, so this review is going to be a mess, I don’t even know why I do that disclaimer anymore, all my reviews are a mess, tbh. Is flailing an acceptable form of professional reviewing tactics?? That’s where we’re at, y’all.
I’m going to try and make sense, here, I made a lot of notes one what I want to say so maybe it’ll work out.
This book is absolutely brilliant and the perfect feminist read. We open in a world that views women as wives and mothers and cooks and cleaners, the stereotypical gender roles that are often expected in women in even our day and age. But seeing Rhen fight her way through and break free of the gender roles pressed upon her from a young age, seeing her access her potential is so, so satisfying. I think it was also important to see Seleni’s hopes and dreams as well. She has chosen the gender roles that are so common, but she’s truly happy with that. She chose it. Maybe not all women want to conquer the world, but it’s so important that they’re given the choice.
While we’re talking about Seleni and Rhen, I’m going to mentioned how much I loved their friendship. Positive female friendships are so important in stories, and we can never truly have enough. Seleni doesn’t have the same dreams as Rhen, but she unconditionally supports Rhen in her dreams and choices. GIRLS SUPPORTING GIRLS, YALL. it’s the best.
I loved seeing Rhen, with her interest in science. What’s often seen as a field for men, and it’s great to see a powerful woman conquering that field. We need more women in science, because women are so, so smart!
I love Rhen’s strong relationship with both of her parents. She gets along well with her dad, and we see the complexity of her relationship with her mom and her mom’s sickness.
I enjoyed seeing the societal divides in the relationship Rhen has with the Uppers, but also the societal divides in education, as education is something that is seen as an entitlement to the rich, but something not necessary for those of a lower class. I think it was important to see the amount of Lowers who were seeking after such an education, and how a lack of money held them back from that.
It took awhile for us to get to the actual Labyrinth, which was frustrating, but I understand the need for a build up to it, to see exactly what got Rhen to that point, and also to show us more of the disease and how it’s affecting the Lowers. I do wish we had a bit more of it, because Rhen kicked butt, but I loved what we did get.
I’m not going to touch on this much, because RHEN DON’T NEED NO MAN but I did really love the romance. Lute is the sweetest and he is so respectful of Rhen and her choices and who she is.
The writing is absolutely stunning. The prose, the characters, it all is incapsulated in what is an amazing writing style from Mary. The plot is amazing and kickass but the character shine and practically steal the show. I loved everyone except for some buttheads, which were, natuarally, men.
This book is a stunning, empowering, powerful read for girls of all ages, and boys too! I love it and you should definitely read it.
What’s the last book that made you feel crazy empowered? Have you read this book? What did you think? Let’s chat!!