Review: The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

Publication Date: November 15th, 2011
Margaret K. McElderry / Simon & Schuster
Format: ARC Galley

Goodreads Summary
In the violent country of Ludania, the language you speak determines what class you are, and there are harsh punishments if you forget your place—looking a member of a higher class in the eye can result in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina (Charlie for short) can understand all languages, a dangerous ability she’s been hiding her whole life. Her only place of release is the drug-filled underground club scene, where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. There, she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy who speaks a language she’s never heard, and her secret is almost exposed. Through a series of violent upheavals, it becomes clear that Charlie herself is the key to forcing out the oppressive power structure of her kingdom…


The latest offering from Kimberly Derting is definitely a take off from her prior books. At first, it was difficult to decipher which genre this book was about. I kept picturing a fantastical Regency England; with a queen on her death bed who has the ability to take over another body to host her soul. As well, the world outside the kingdom had the air of those times when wealth was a great divide between societies. But as I continue to read along, clues started to pop up that this world was indeed set in the future. This book however, deviates from dystopian in such a way that the world did not end in a calamity of epic proportions. It was almost like the world regressed to the old times where kings and queens ruled countries, beheadings were rampant and people lived with constant fear in their eyes. Come to think of it, I can’t remember if it was ever mentioned how this world adapted the ways of matrilineal regent ruling.

I loved the concept of an evil queen who can’t be killed. Well, she can die of old age but her soul passes on to the next woman of lineage; therefore passing her dictatorship and witchcraft powers to whoever sits in the throne. I also loved the idea of a lost heir who has abilities that were both magical and simple (Charlie’s skills lie in her ability to understand a multitude of language, while her sister Angeline has healing powers).

I loved that Charlie wasn’t so quick to exchange flirtatious exploits with Max. The attraction was there and given the length of the book, I thought the romance was paced quite well. I’m glad there were no instantaneous combustion between these two when they first met. I was a bit worried there when Xander came into the picture. I would’ve been thoroughly disappointed if there was a love triangle. Mind you, there was a bit of competition between Max and Aron (Charlie’s best friend) but it was not explored.

The Pledge is a chockfull of surprises – in such a way that Kimberly Derting flexed her writing muscle. There wasn’t a shortage of action and lulls that will render you in a bored stupor. The world building was quite unique in such a way that Ms. Derting combined primitiveness and modern antiquity. I’m a fan of fantasy and most of the books I’ve read in that genre were usually hefty. I wish this book had a couple of hundred more pages. I know I could probably gobble them up easy.

I enjoyed this book and applaud Ms. Derting for showing that she’s not a one-dimensional writer. 

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