Rory (The Ghosts of Palladino #1) by Ciye Cho

Far beyond heaven, earth and hell is a city known as Palladino, a place ruled by ghosts and filled with demons, magic, and all sorts of darkly beautiful things. A city where no one can ever escape.

Eighteen-year-old Rory is a cake decorator who makes stunning confections. But no amount of frosting or miracles can save her when a demon kidnaps her—and carries her to Palladino. Here, Rory ends up in a deadly charm school where young women are forced to become companions for the Ghost Lords. And for her to survive, Rory must become everything that she isn’t: graceful, elegant... and perfect.

But nothing is what it seems in Palladino. Not the magic. Not the ghosts. And definitely not Martin Marius, the bizarre Ghost Lord-slash-inventor who is drawn to Rory. For amid a thousand machines and a hundred cats, Martin holds a secret that could change everything. A secret that could either free Rory... or destroy her.

I have to say that this was one of the most unique and quirky books I have read in a long time.  Rory is taken by a demon to an alien world in which the girls are forced to attend a charm school. Yes, forced into taking classes on good behavior, ballet, grooming and tea to just name a few.

Rory is not as beautiful, and statuesque as the rest of the "students" but was brought there because of a unique quality that she does have. She clashes with all of the instructors and has to try harder than most of the other girls just to make it through each day.

With absolutely nowhere to go and no way back home, these girls quickly adjust to the very strict new ways of their lives. Even though most of the girls are somewhat helpful when she has difficulties with the teachers, she is far from making any real and true new friends. Although of course some connections are made.

Not only is she stuck in a strange new place, forced to take lessons on how to be more lady-like to suite the Lords. There is also a large amount of other events that take place including magic, ghosts, cats (that can communicate with her) and a focus on her love of baking, cakes especially. There was one moment when she squirts icing in the face of an animal to set off a distraction where I literally laughed out loud thinking that had to have been one of the most bizarre things I have ever read.

Although the story is really more of a serious series of events, there are moments that took me off guard and having to re-read the paragraph to make sure I caught it all right. Making me smile with the imaginative storyline that surprised me at very unexpected times throughout the story.


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