This book starts with the youngest daughter of the Oracle seeking to try and find a way to help her sister avoid becoming a Vessel for the Oracle. According to the Oracle, it is a sacred duty that each of her daughters must enter into when they turn 16. Clio, the youngest daughter, is currently 15 and her sister has just turned 16. Clio returns home to find her sister already gone and is very upset that she wasn’t even allowed to say goodbye. She believes that the Oracle doesn’t actually have any powers, but that it’s all just a hoax designed to keep her mother in power.
The powers of the Oracle are passed down the maternal line by the Deities. When a new Oracle comes to power, her hair turns white and the Deities begin to send her visions to guide her. Clio believes her mother fakes having the visions that she uses as a means of controlling her worshipers. She even refers to her mother’s believers as a cult. Each of her sisters changed once they became a Vessel, seeming to become cold and distant. They will only tell Clio that she will understand once she turns 16 and becomes a Vessel of the Oracle too. Feeling trapped by a future that she has no desire to be a part of, Clio runs away, hiding for the night in the upper branches of a tree she used to climb with the Prince when they were young.
While sleeping in the tree, she has her first vision. Clio “Sees” her mother and 3 of her 4 sisters being murdered by the King’s trusted advisor. Her 4th sister is sent as a sacrifice to a neighboring city that had murdered their Oracle. In the place of an Oracle, they now have a priest who rips out the hearts of living sacrifices atop a pyramid.
Needing to save her sister, Clio disguises her now white hair by covering it in mud and hides herself among a group of slave girls being sent to serve as temple slaves for the Emperor. Unfortunately, once the slave train arrives at it’s destination, the girls who were sent to serve in the temple learn that they will be sacrificed by the priest to gain the Deities’ favor for the Emperor’s armies. Also, the day they arrive and before she has a chance to stop it, Clio sees her sister’s still beating heart torn out by the priest just before she and the other slave girls are locked away in cells to await their turn to be sacrificed.
Clio must hide who she is or risk being immediately killed should they discover that she is the last Oracle. She has had no training as she wasn’t expected to become a Vessel for another year. The Visions sent by the Deities come without any control on her part, often happening at times when she has other things worrying her. Clearly, she is supposed to find a way to keep what she sees from coming to pass, but she has no idea how to make that happen as she is currently locked in a cell awaiting her turn as a sacrifice.
There were a lot of twists and turns in this book. Some of them I suspected would happen, but many of them came as a bit of a surprise. The main character may have started out as little more than a whiney teenager, but she grew and developed into so much more during the course of the book. As usual, I have only given you the smallest part of the story that was told.
There is so much more going on here that you really should read it for yourself. It was well written, well edited, and while it didn’t end at a cliffhanger, it was clear enough that there is still much more of the story to be told. It left me wanting to continue on and find out what will happen to Clio next. I will be looking forward to reading the next book in the series.