Hey all, Dani here.
Some days I feel like I’m doing a great job and I’m feeling like I’m actually catching up on some of my blog posts. And then there are days like today, when I look over everything that I’ve read so far in February and I realize that I’ve only actually reviewed two of the twenty-ish books I’ve completed. It really helps to force me to accept that perspective, and that reality that I’m still trying to work on my backlist of reviews and my “recent” reviews (meaning the books I read in January). These are the days when I struggle to accept myself as a good book blogger. And I also realize that I should look at my stats and take note of the fact that I have had at least one post up every day this year; in fact I have written 64 posts so far this year, and today makes 65 posts. That is outstanding. For the first few years of this blog I never could have imagined being able to generate enough content to post every single day. It is days like today when I think about how I need to stop putting so much pressure on myself. The blog is doing great, and I’m enjoying what I’m doing. So why am I stressing myself out so much thinking of all of the things for the blog that I’m not currently doing?
Wow, okay, so I need to stop that train of thought before this becomes a discussion post instead of a review post. But I guess it does make sense, as today’s review is for a book I read in January, but that I had the e-galley from NetGalley last year before the book was released. So, thank you to NetGalley and Inkyard Press for granting me access to this book early. I will also point out that the copy I ended up reading was a finished hardcover that I purchased myself, so clearly my opinion was not swayed by receiving an early digital copy.
All right, let’s jump into the review.
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Publication Date: August 27, 2019
ISBN: 1335090444 (ISBN13: 9781335090447)
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.
Rating: 4 stars
First off, wow, I would not want to live in Zadie and Nor’s village of Varenia. Aside from the difficulty of having enough food or funds to care for a family are enough of a problem, but the insane pressure put on young women to be beautiful and to preserve that beauty it astounding. Nor has the tiniest little pucker of a scar on her cheek and with the way her mother treats her you would think Nor was a horrible cripple or a leper or something.
At least Zadie and Nor had each other to rely on. They are best friends as well as twin sisters, and it is clear from the beginning that Nor will do anything to protect her sister. This reminds me of the determination and protective instincts of siblings such as Katniss Everdeen. So when Zadie is chosen to marry the prince, when she is already in love with a local boy, Zadie decides that she won’t go, and that she is willing to injure/scar herself so she’ll no longer be beautiful. The problem is that a sketching of Zadie has already been sent to the castle, so the village is put in a problematic position because sending a defective girl will mean grave punishment for them all. This sets Nor on her path to save and protect her sister and her home. Covering her tiny scar with makeup, Nor pretends to be her sister and goes in her place.
And that is all I will say for specific plot details because that is all pretty much stated in the synopsis as well. The mystery and danger and political intrigue of this story is all rather well done, and I especially enjoyed the relationships Nor built while stuck so far away from her friends and family.
I was so drawn into this story, and found the characters to be rather intriguing, and the potential for romance was pretty great.
While this book could stand on its own, I feel like it did leave a number of questions unanswered, so I was supremely glad to hear the announcement of a sequel/conclusion to be released later this year. I am absolutely delighted to find out what will happen for Zadie and Nor and Talin and Ceren now, because it should be a pretty darn fascinating and dangerous and wonderful conclusion…or that’s my hope anyway.
Where to Get a Copy
You can also check with your local library.