Living in a dangerous world controlled by a weak, desperate queen, Charlie is harboring a dangerous secret. In her world, classes are drawn and enforced by the language they speak, and it is a crime punishable by death to know a language other than your own. But Charlie doesn’t just know one other class’s language—she knows them all. It’s a difficult ability to hide, and her life depends on appearing ignorant. But one night, at an underground club, Charlie meets an intriguing young man, Max, who seems different from everyone else. And then she catches him speaking a language she’s never heard before. Their encounter isn’t by chance, and soon Charlie’s world will be turned upside down.
The Pledge is a dark and magical book with a unique concept. Derting’s world, which is a blend of dystopia and fantasy, is dangerous, full of hidden tunnels and carefully kept secrets that Charlie slowly learns as she gets to know Max. Her family has sacrificed a great deal to keep her secret safe throughout her life, so she’s always cautious, but she soon gets sucked into a conflict much bigger than herself. There are more than a few shocking surprises along the way—people who aren’t at all what they appear, long-kept family secrets, other secret abilities—that keep this book suspenseful and intriguing, and the threat of a queen who will stop at nothing to get what she wants is chilling. The book ends with a satisfying but open conclusion that leaves room for a sequel. The Pledge is an interesting departure from Derting’s other works, but it is a promising one.