Athalie is a fantasy novel which tells the story of a sacrifice and what came afterwards, it starts in the capital of the Sapphire Empire on the planet Neoma, when Athalie is 6 years old and watching the annual sacrifice for the first time, she is in awe of the dancers spinning to the drum beat, the priestesses composure and the priests voices which are lifted in song, as well as everyone else being in their finery, but the most beautiful of all is the girl chosen to be the sacrifice for that year. As the young woman reaches her destination, she stops walking and desperately tries to escape her fate, Athalie is terrified and willing someone to help her, but realises that her death is more important to the people, even the girls family, than her life is and when she is tied up and still sent to her death, Athalie is changed forever.
Eleven years later, we rejoin Athalie in the Sun Chamber for the annual choosing of the sacrifice, all girls between the ages of thirteen and seventeen are gathered together for the gods to observe and choose the one whose soul would be reborn, as the priests passed between the girls and the High Priest used his god given staff to test each of them, Athalie is planning her wedding and imagining how the ceremony and whatever happened afterwards would be, but this is all for naught as she is chosen to be the sacrifice for that year, she is sure that they are wrong and that she should not have been chosen, but when she is taken away to the chambers assigned to the sacrifice, she maintains that the choice was wrong, but the High Priest will hear nothing of it and walks out of the room, leaving soldiers to guard her and one night Athalies fiancé helps her to escape where she is being held so that she can say goodbye to her family, however, she is caught.
Over the next three days, she is made beautiful by the slaves for the events leading up to her sacrifice, she feasts, drinks too much, meets the emperor and walks through the villages so the people can see her, she still maintains that she isn’t meant to be sacrificed, however, the High Priest threatens that he will hurt her family if she doesn’t go along with everything and become the sacrifice, but when she is being bathed on that fateful day, she overhears a conversation about a weapon which the High Priest has found and is going to use on their enemies. When the day comes, she goes to the designated place and her life ends, but it is not the end of Athalie, after the pain has subsided, she finds herself in a field of wildflowers with animals around her and feels at peace, but she suddenly goes elsewhere and finds herself in front of one of the gods who answers her questions, but with only vague answers, but when the weapon comes into the conversation he explains what the weapon is and what it will do, Athalie is shocked by this information and begs to go back to make sure that they won’t use it, he refuses, but Athalie is adamant that she needs to go back, so he takes her to see other gods. When there, she manages to find out how the weapon can be stopped, but they do not want her to do it, so they agree to point her in the right direction, but that she has to find and then work out how to use this other weapon herself, but if she fails, she will not be reborn.
When Athalie is sent back to Neoma to find what she needs to stop the deadly weapon, she gives herself another name and declares that she is a prophet, she tries to talk to the High Priest, but he doesn’t believe her declares that he will use the weapon anyway on the next full moon, which is only a few days away and locks her in a room, however, she manages to find a way out and while doing this, she finds an unusual ally who helps her on her mission, but will Athalie be able to find and work out this weapon in time, or will she perish along with the rest of her planet? This is a whirlwind mission across countries fraught with danger and obstacles which keeps you hooked right until the end and well worth a read.
Reviewed by @roxsannel