Title: Crown of Coral and Pearl
Author: Mara Rutherford
Pub. Date: August 27, 2019
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.
This will be a spoiler free review.
I went into this book fairly open minded, only having seen some positive reactions from friends who had read it. I still didn’t know what to expect. I also didn’t actually plan on getting to this book prior to release, but I’m so glad I did.
I absolutely loved this book. I read it in basically one sitting, in one day and there were definitely surprising moments. I loved the cast of characters, except for Zadie and Nor’s Mother. That woman needed to be punch in the face and thrown into the sea. She was absolutely awful. I couldn’t stand her. I feel like it’s very rarely that a character makes me so instantly angry.
She is awful to her daughters, favoring one over the other, making the one feel so inadequate, pitting them against each other. Thankfully it is Zadie and Nor against the world. It’s appalling how she treats Nor as damaged. Her whole attitude towards her is anger inducing. It’s not much better towards towards Zadie, constantly reenforcing this idea that beauty is the only thing that matters, and it must be protected at all costs.
While they both had it rough, there came a point where I wasn’t thrilled with like anyone in Nor’s life, including her sister. All but her father treated her like crap, and I couldn’t wait until the second half of the novel. I really liked Nor as a character and rooted for her the whole book and how her people treated her was outrageous.
Enter Talin and Ceren, both Princes. Talin is the Golden Prince, spends time outside, nice, handsome and wonderful. Then you have Ceren, set to inherit the throne, lives inside the castle in a mountain, cruel, not very nice. I thought upon meeting Ceren we were going to have another Cardan…you know, hard and cruel on the outside, but wholly devoted to the girl on the inside…
This book kind of plays on that characterization that’s going on in YA right now – the cruel prince type character but is actually a softie. Or I thought he was going to be like Aldrik from the Air Awakens series. How it actually plays out is kind of a twist, and it felt almost too good to be true. I guess I’ll just have to wait for book 2, to find out if my sinking feeling is right or wrong. It’s kind of a double edge sword, since I love the prickly princes, but at the same time, it feels like a lot of fantasy YA books are picking up on this kind of characterization of the “dark” prince. So it’s nice that Ceren had a bit of a twist.
This book is definitely a must read. My expectations weren’t high, I didn’t really have any, and I think this might be a new favorite and I really cannot wait for book 2. It definitely didn’t play out how I thought it would based on the synopsis, but I’m not mad. This is a sit down, read in one sitting kind of book, following Nor’s journey to protect her sister and her people and find a way to save them all. If you’re looking for something a bit magical, about standing up for the people you love, and standing against those who wish harm, and not allowing outer beauty to define who you are, then you won’t want to miss this new book!