Mielitta is an eighteen year old girl, she is a servant in the Citadel of Perfection and she is despised by everyone around her and as hard as she tries to be invisible, there are ones who torment her relentlessly, but there are also those who ignore her as if she was never friends with them in the first place, this has led her to a life of loneliness and the only solace she finds is in the archery classes she runs with the children and the skill she has built up in it over the years. She also enjoys reading in the library when she has done her servants work, she is able to absorb the information like a sponge and this has led to a fascination with the Forest outside the Citadel, but whenever she tries to ask about it, she is tongue tied, she also suspects that the Maturity Test which she is not ready to take stops the adults from talking about it as well. Life in the Citadel is bland for Mielitta, just like the food and water they consume, the greylight which changes depending on the time of day and the building materials used to build her home.
When she wakes up on her eighteenth birthday, she receives a mysterious gift with a small phial of liquid and a riddle contained inside, the riddle makes no sense to her, but the liquid is full of scents and she is enthralled by them, but she is shocked to find that when she wears it, nobody around her can smell it. When she is given the task of taking refreshments to the Council Chamber, she discovers that something has happened in the outer defences and that the Forest beyond is gaining strength and preparing to attack Perfection, but when the conversation turns to the Forest and it’s dangers, Mielitta is wondering if the loss she has felt all her life is Nature, then something happens which shocks her to the core and she gains knowledge of how to access it, but as they declare that her mind has to be wiped of this knowledge, she quickly has to store it away somewhere they cannot get to it, but she can.
The next day she accidentally spills the last of the liquid on herself and the scent is overpowering, bus she soon gets lost in her daily activities and it becomes part of the background and while she is doing this, she uses the time to make a decision about her future and when she goes to visit her father and talk to him about it, her hopes of making it happen are dashed when someone takes the place she wanted, she rushes out to escape the sadness this causes her and instead heads to where she stored the memories, not believing that she would really find them, but when she does and it all comes rushing back to her, she is disturbed by her tormentors. They taunt Mielitta and when she dares to fight back, they proceed to chase her, she heads towards the gate where the memories guide her, she says the words and escapes into the Forest. When she gets out there, she feels, sees and experiences things for the first time and is drawn in deeper as she examines everything she sees, when she comes across a beehive and opens it, she is attacked by the bees within it.
When she wakes up after the ordeal, she sees all the dead bees around her, but when they disappear into an ultraviolet light, she discovers that she can also feel them within herself, however, she just ignores the buzzing and changes to her sight and other senses and returns to the citadel so that she isn’t missed. The next day when she discovers that there is an outline of a bee on her thigh, she also realises that she can hear the bees, she decides that this was her Maturity Test and she devises a plan to take the opportunity to become a woman on the outside to match the woman within her, it is after she has done this that she discovers a plot within the Citadel and the dangers associated with it while she is in the library, she also discovers the ability she has to be called to aid the bees in the hive she now belongs to.
Will Mielitta be able to use her new status and the bees help to foil the plot against the Forest, or will those who want to hurt her and the Forest succeed and wipe out everything outside of the Citadel and keep it in the Perfect state they want? This is a brilliant journey of personal discovery, danger and the wonders of nature which keeps you enthralled as plots are discovered and decisions are made which affect more than just Mielitta.
Reviewed by @roxsannel