Thursday, August 29, 2019

#Review - Crown of Coral and Pearl by Mara Rutherford #YALIT #Fantasy

Series: Crown of Coral and Pearl #1
Format: Hardcover, 432 pages
Release Date: August 27, 2019
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Epic

Ash Princess meets Song of the Current in Mara Rutherford’s debut YA fantasy Crown of Coral and Pearl, which follows a young woman from a village on the sea who must impersonate her twin on land to save everyone she loves from a tyrannical prince.

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.

Mara Rutherford's Crown of Coral and Pearl explores the close bonds of sisterhood, the truth that beauty is only skin deep, and forbidden romance in an evocatively described fantasy setting that is sure to have broad appeal. The gorgeous landscapes that Mara Rutherford has crafted—a village on the sea and a dark mountain kingdom—will entrance fantasy readers everywhere. This book is apparently the authors debut novel. The story is narrated from Nor’s point of view, a fierce and lovable character

Twin sisters Nor and Zadie are coral and pearl. They were raised on an ocean village called Varena where pearl diving is the main source of income for the villages and beautiful girls are a way for the village to gain great honor. This year, the Crown Prince of Ilara will choose a bride. Zadie is beautiful and has been groomed by her overzealous bitter mother to be the one chosen. Nor was permanently scarred after an accident when she 10 years old for pearls thus thought of as worthless by the same mother.

"Because you are the twin of my soul. You know me better than anyone ever has or ever will. Because I trust you more than I trust Sami. And because you are the strongest person I have ever known. Only you can help me".  

But, Zadie is in love with someone else, and doesn't want to abandon her home. Sami has Zadie's heart, while Nor has her soul. It's hard to separate either for the sake of a marriage that isn't guaranteed to end in happiness. 20 years ago, one of their own was chosen but was never heard from again. Zadie decides to choose her own fate with or without her sisters help. When all is said and done, Nor is reluctantly chosen to take Zadie's place and pretend to be her for the sake of everyone in the village.

One of the best things about this story is the bond between twins Nor and Zadie that was unbreakable and more than once, Nor showed how much she was willing to sacrifice for the benefit of her sister. But, when Nor arrives in Ilara, she comes face to face with the man who she is supposed to marry, and he's anything but Prince Charming waiting for his Cinderella. In fact, Ceren is a psychopath while is half brother Talin was much more surprising and likable.

The first half of this book takes place in Varenia, while the second half takes place in Ilara where it is dark, gloomy, restricted, and filled with surprises as well as a bit of romantic inclinations between Nor and Talin. I am interesting in what happens next to Nor, Zadie, Sami and Talin. Things  could get very interesting.

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