By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children. When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape–before her time runs out? Together with one of Linden’s servants-Gabriel-Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?
Why did I wait so long to read this book?
Within the first four pages, my jaw was slack and eyes wide and mind stunned with how intense this book began. I mean, if reading those first few pages isn’t enough to grab you right out of the gate, I don’t know what more you’re looking for. Because that was INSANE. (In the very best way.)
Poor Rhine! Stolen away and forced to marry into a polygamous marriage with a complete stranger, leaving her twin brother to wonder what happened to her and imagine the worst. But while she’s essentially being held as a prisoner in the mansion, she does find friends in her sister wives as well as a certain attendant–Gabriel.
Now I do love Rhine and Gabriel’s interaction with each other–I do!
Is it bad that I love Linden?
I know that his wives are all taken by force and ripped away from the lives they had, but throughout the whole book I had the feeling that he had nothing to do with that. And I was right! He’s gentle and caring and with all the time Rhine has to spend with him, I can’t help but fall for him a little bit . . . He’s a product of the sheltered life he’s been raised in and I can’t curse him for that–he’s doing what he can with what he has and what he knows.
The problem is that Linden’s creepy old dad, Housemaster Vaughn, tells him only what he wants Linden to hear. Housemaster Vaughn is the sadistic, evil old gargoyle responsible for the deaths of the girls and experimenting on dead bodies in the hope of finding a cure to the virus that’s killing off all the younger generation. His intention is admirable, being that he wants to find a cure. However, his methods are twisted and creepy and wrong.
Is it bad that his depravity made me love the story more?
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely hate the guy and he gives me the creeps like none other. But it enhances the story, and I’m the kind of person that thrives on a creepy and chilling plot.
And way to leave me hanging, DeStefano! Good thing I was already prepared and bought all of The Chemical Garden books before I’d even read this one;) I knew this was a book I’d respond to and love. AND, on a semi-related note, if you’re on Twitter and not following @LaurenDeStefano, you’re doing it wrong;)