|Series: stand alone||Rating: 4/5|
|Date of Publishing: August 27 2019||Genre: YA/Teen fantasy|
|Publisher: Inkyard Press||Available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble|
|Number of pages: 384||Author’s website: https://www.mararutherford.com/|
Quote of the Book
Tears pricked at the corners of my eyes. “Why didn’t you give me this sooner?”
Her ancient face appeared next to mine in the mirror. “To what end, child? Hiding our scars doesn’t mean they’re not there. Just as beauty cannot disguise who we really are beneath the surface.”
*excerpt taken from ARC, may change at publication.
For generations, the princes of Ilara have married the most beautiful maidens from the ocean village of Varenia. But though every girl longs to be chosen as the next princess, the cost of becoming royalty is higher than any of them could ever imagine…
Nor once dreamed of seeing the wondrous wealth and beauty of Ilara, the kingdom that’s ruled her village for as long as anyone can remember. But when a childhood accident left her with a permanent scar, it became clear that her identical twin sister, Zadie, would likely be chosen to marry the Crown Prince—while Nor remained behind, unable to ever set foot on land.
Then Zadie is gravely injured, and Nor is sent to Ilara in her place. To Nor’s dismay, her future husband, Prince Ceren, is as forbidding and cold as his home—a castle carved into a mountain and devoid of sunlight. And as she grows closer to Ceren’s brother, the charming Prince Talin, Nor uncovers startling truths about a failing royal bloodline, a murdered queen… and a plot to destroy the home she was once so eager to leave.
In order to save her people, Nor must learn to negotiate the treacherous protocols of a court where lies reign and obsession rules. But discovering her own formidable strength may be the one move that costs her everything: the crown, Varenia and Zadie.
Thank you to Netgalley and Harlequin Teen/InkYard press for the ARC.
Song of the Book
Roar by Katy Perry
As a child of the sea, Nor is forbidden to step on land but an accident may once again give her the opportunity that she thought she lost years ago. But Nor is finding that Ilara isn’t the wondrous place she fantasized of and the price that was paid to go ashore, may not have been worth all she has lost.
I have been reading Harlequin for years but this is my first venture into their teen/YA imprint Inkyard. The summary caught my attention (reminding me a little of Uprooted) and the sisters’ relationship turned out to be big bonus for me, as I had been thinking recently how nice it would be to read a story where the girls’ relationship is as close and/or had that ‘buddy story’ feel that you generally only get with the guy leads. I enjoyed the first part of this story a ton just because of Nor and Zadie’s closeness and their devotion to one another. I also liked the way Zadie was kept ‘present’ in the story later at Ilara, though she wasn’t around.
Varenia was a cool setting and I liked the culture around their home (especially about the blood coral) and that as the world opened up to Nor, we see hints of other cultures/giving with lots of room for possibilities to expand the kingdom or for more stories.
The importance of the girls being beautiful and its message that it shouldn’t consume your life etc., was a big portion of the beginning and felt like Nor had already learned after her accident, but since it was the main strife between her mom and her, I kind of wished for some sort of closure between them. I did like that Nor got to see why it was so important for her mom to see her daughters succeed, and in her own way she was looking out for her daughters as best as she could.
The ‘villain’ was excellent (though the bat thing might have felt a bit mustache-twirly). He was functioning, with swings between totally mad in the head, and hurt child, and I loved the glimpses of what he could have been/be if someone had cared for him. These are my favorite types of villains, the ones where you wonder when they’re going to snap. Well done.
Talin and Nor had some great chemistry at times, and I especially loved their first meeting – you knew right off that he was the love interest but wondered how that could possibly work out. But their end meeting/farewell was somewhat lacklustre in comparison. Also, after Ceran’s scene stealing personality, he seemed a little bland at times. I kept expecting a twist or something with Talin and his own motivations to not be quite so pure.
The story was quick, lots of fun, with some fluttery first-time love feelings, and a good dose of danger for our heroine to overcome. I liked the first half because of the setting and the sisters, and second half for the characters and the intrigue. The ending felt a tad bit rushed but I enjoyed this book as a whole and blew through it in a few sittings.
- I liked that there was lots of room to expand on everything from the worldbuilding, to relationships between her and her family, Talin, and others if there was to be another story without leaving this one feeling like it was unfinished.
- My copy had some formatting issues, most likely will be fixed in the final cleanup.