I saw this book floating around on social media and decided to give it a shot. I mean, look at that cover! I know, I know, you're not supposed to choose a book based on its cover, but... look at it!
This story follows the main character Nimona, who is bound by a magical contract to the Trust. It was originally her father's contract, but it was passed on to her when he couldn't meet its demands, and was thrown into prison. The contract then fell to her, as his next of kin. The Trust is a bit complicated; it's head is the Queen, and she controls a strong portion of magic to force others into contracts, usually ones that can never be met, to have complete dominance over those who are unfortunate enough to find themselves under her thrall.
Nim is one such unfortunate, and her primary handler is Calum, son to the Queen, and who will one day take over the Trust. He is a sadistic SOB who delights in the pain and torture of others, and the power that magic gives him.
I had a few gripes with this story, I'm not going to lie. The magic is a but hard to understand and isn't explained all that well. The source is a mystery, and the wielders have this magic have unexplained powers, particularly over contracts. Contracts are made when something valuable to the person comes into the possession of the Trust. Yet this magic also seems to have the ability to influence others psychologically, making them drawn to it, as well as physically, although this isn't explained how. My other gripe was the worldbuilding, which was virtually nonexisten. The story takes place in a city, below the city, and primarily in the home of Nimona and the rooms of the seneschal to the King.
This leads me into the strongest part of this book. The characters are extremely well done. Their interactions are priceless, the dialogue snappy and downright funny at times. The relationship between Nim and the seneschal, Warrick, gave me all the feels, as did the interactions between Nimona and her friends, servants, and the seneschal's errand boy, Wesley. This was by far the heart of the book, and ultimately will be the reason I continue with the series. I adored them all, even Calum. He's an intimidating, well-written bad guy.
Although the magic could have used some more explanation, and the worldbuilding needed a lot of work, this book was very well done. 3.5/5 magical contract stars, and fans of YA, excellent characters, well-done romance, and who don't mind inner-head dialogue will be sure to like this.