The book is written from the POV of Sable, a twenty-five year old (though she felt younger at times) thief who works for a gangster in exchange for food and clothing and shelter for her and her sisters. She has the ability to tell when someone is lying or telling the truth, and she keeps this a secret as long as she can so that the gangster doesn't use it for his own purposes.
Right off the bat, Sable is engaging and her story is easy to relate to. She's desperately trying to keep her two sisters safe, but something happens to the youngest one - Ryah - that the reader isn't privy to until later in the book. In a bid to save herself and those she loves, Sable takes up with a wandering band of actors, and in the process, they stumble across an army amassing to invade from a far-off kingdom. The plot was straightforward enough, without being too intricate or too boring.
What really shined were the characters and their interactions. The wandering actors are each unique, memorable, and just down-right likable. Their character arcs were fantastic, and each scene paints a picture that leads the plot forward. There were no 'throwaway" scenes that didn't have a purpose.
One in particular was especially moving for me. It happened about 20% through the book. Sable is rescuing her sister and whisking her away from the city, but her sister is staying at the equivalent of a convent. She has left her sister there in the care of an Abbess Perin (hello, nod to Wheel of Time! Happy sigh). Sable is internally struggling with her inability to protect those she loves, and is angry at the two gods for their unwillingness to help her.
"Every choice I've made has been wrong," she whispered.
The abbess gave her a wrinkled smile. "That is the curse of life. Judging your past actions in the light of what you know now." She tilted her head. "Give your past self grace, my child. She did the best she could."
It's a poignant scene of redemption, where Sable finds what she has been longing for - empathy. Kindness. Compassion. All the things she hasn't given herself, she receives from this abbess who offers it willingly. I found myself wiping tears away. What else could we ask for as human beings but connection and validation that what we feel matters?
This book was moving, funny, and engaging start to finish. I know nothing about the Keepers or anything else about this world except this one story, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.