**Platinum Note: This review was provided by Jaime Jones, a trial reviewer for our site. Please make Jaime feel welcome & I hope you enjoy her review! ~ VRS
"What is January Black?" A simple enough question if you studied this world's history, and knew it like the back of your hand as well a Matty , the rebellious scholar, does. The dreaded question plagued, not only Matty and Iris, but me as well! Just when he thinks he has it all figured out (trust me, he and Iris exhausted all possibilities and resources, THOROUGHLY) his persistence did not go unnoticed by his King, but it also didn't pay off. So Matty decides to give up and give in to the beautiful, curly blonde haired girl, he is falling in love with. As the wheels are set in motion, Matty and Iris end up as pawns in a game to earn freedom and truth, not only for key characters, but for all those living in their world! The mystery slowly unravels, and will draw you in...hook, line, and sinker! The closer we (I say we because I was with this young couple, rooting and cheering them on, every step of the way) got to learning the truth, the more we realized everything we thought we knew was carefully constructed and obscured by the "higher ups" for us to believe what they wanted. But once the wheels clicked into place and the moment of clarity hit - I was floored at the events that took place, I literally had goosebumps. I laughed, got angry, and yes, I teared up, as it all came full circle and ended with a bang! I hope Wendy Russo writes a follow up to this book because I would love to see how Matty and Iris mold their future, together.
This book was well written and the author paid special attention to EVERY fine detail. She created a beautiful, lavish world with her description of imagery, intrigue, and strong, mysterious key players that helped her reveal secrets that will shock "your socks off". ~ Jaime Jones
Platinum gives Wendy & "January Black":
4 Platinum Rings!
Sixteen-year-old genius Matty Ducayn has never fit in on The Hill, an ordered place seriously lacking a sense of humor. After his school's headmaster expels him for a small act of mischief, Matty's future looks grim until King Hadrian comes to his rescue with a challenge: answer a question for a master's diploma.
More than a second chance, this means freedom. Masters can choose where they work, a rarity among Regents, and the question is simple.
What was January Black?
It's a ship. Everyone knows that. Hadrian rejects that answer, though, and Matty becomes compelled by curiosity and pride to solve the puzzle. When his search for an answer turns up long-buried state secrets, Matty's journey becomes a collision course with a deadly royal decree. He's been set up to fail, which forces him to choose. Run for his life with the challenge lost...or call the king's bluff.
The cover wasn’t leather as he first thought, but a plastic product that had suffered a chemical change over decades. It looked like brushed leather, but it was hard and brittle, cracking as he turned it in his hands. Finally, he put it down to prevent damaging it.
What had caught his attention was a clear, embossed mark on the spine. There was a matching mark—an oval with the letter “J” wrapped in tiny flowers—on the front cover. Matty had only ever seen that design in one other place, but after wearing it around his neck for eight months, it was as familiar to him now as the Sextant and Sun logo.
He pulled his chain over his head and appraised the skeleton key in a way he hadn’t done in months. Hadrian could have given Matty anything to keep on him as proof that he respected the king’s space and authority. A relic had seemed a strange symbol to Matty then, and with the ancient book in front of him, it seemed even stranger now.
Unless my assumption was wrong.
Matty cursed silently at himself. Hadrian gave him a clue, he thought. It had been hanging around his neck since March, and he never once researched it.
His palms were sweating. He rubbed his hands on the bedspread once again, and then gingerly opened the brittle cover.
The spine snapped. The sound squeezed Matty’s stomach, and the spread the book opened to on its shattered binding broke his heart. He turned pages, one by one, and then made a quick sloppy flip through them all.
The pages were textured, but blank. Every single one......
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