Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 432 pages
Author: Mara Rutherford
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: August 27th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads
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 the publisher, Harlequin Teen/Inkyard Press, and Netgalley for the digital ARC. All opinions are my own.
REALLY FEELIN’ THIS.
Oh wow. I am so excited I received an ARC for this because it was fantastic!
At first, I was worried. I didn’t realize this was a duology (once I checked this, it also quickly got better and made more sense). It took about 40% of the way through the book to get Nor off her home island, Varenia. I still think too much time was spent there, but it seems it was being used to really build a background for Nor and her family/lifestyle.
Once off the island and in Ilara, things start really going down. I was all for one of the princes because I imagined him as this rough bad guy who has a soft side that would slowly come out. HOT DANG, I was wrong. I kept flipping pages trying to see if we would get a redemption for him, and it still hasn’t happened. I thought I would be frustrated with this, but instead…I am here for it. Own your evil. He’s an amazing villain that I know has many more layers that I can’t wait to see in book two.
Nor’s love interest is growing on me. Since I wasn’t for him at first I had pushed him to the side for a bit until it was clear what was brewing between the two. I love the mystery and intrigue behind him as well. There’s so much to still learn. We got plenty in this book and it felt like it left just the right amount out for further solving the puzzle of the princes of Ilara.
I really loved Nor as our main character. She grew on me over the story. I liked that she had such a tight sister bond with Zadie and that that never wavered. Family continually remained important to her. Nor was sneaky, a bit impulsive, and full of love for those close to her. I am behind her as a heroine for Varenia.
I thought the pacing at times was slow, but things continually picked up. It made this hard to put down and I was always wondering what would happen next. The ending was left open, but not in a CLIFFHANGER kind of way.
Overall audience notes:
- Young adult fantasy
- Language: very little light language
- Romance: a few kisses, occasionally a little passionate
- Violence: poison, torture, blood-letting, swords, knives, near-drownings, throwing people off of cliffs, murder