Publication date: January 2011
Source: ARC provided by publisher
Nalia has spent sixteen years being the princess and only child of her parents, the king and queen of Thorvaldor. All that changes when she is told that a prophecy about the princess inspired them to switch her at birth with the real princess - she is, in fact, a false princess. Thrust from the palace and thrown into a new and harsh life with her aunt, Sinda tries to make the adjustment. When she discovers she has magical abilities, she decides to return to the city for answers, but instead discovers a secret plot that puts her life and the real princess' in danger.
Things I Liked:
This was a fabulous debut! I loved the story, with its surprises and mystery. Sinda was so well developed that I wanted to be her friend - she reminded me of herself and I love how she has to make difficult decisions and changes in order to become what she wants to. Her whole life is turned upside down and she has to flounder for quite a while as she tries to figure out who she really is. Teens and young adults will resonate with her confusion and uncertainty. I enjoyed having a nice slow moving romance. Yes, we could all figure out what would happen, but I still loved how it developed, how she began to understand what she felt, and the sweetness of their scenes together (this book held one of the few kissing scenes I've read recently that felt real). I'll be watching for more from O'Neal. Enjoyable parts:
It was like breathing again after almost drowning, like being given water after crawling through a desert. All the worries that had assailed me had vanished, so that I felt loose-limbed and truly alive for the first time since I had stepped into the carriage beside the stables and ridden away from the palace. p60-61 of ARC
We didn't look the same, not really. Close enough to be cousins, perhaps, but never twins or even sisters. Nalia was taller than I was, and longer of limb. Her hair looked like polished wood, whereas mine tended to be more the color of dark tea. The features of her face were more cleanly cut, her nose sharper and brows more arched, all except her lips, which were full and rosy and pink. The similarity was there, but it was like looking at a view of myself through water, with every feature altered by the waves. p122 of ARCThings I Didn't Like:
The beginning felt a little bit predictable and even too simplistic. I thought that Sinda's lack of feeling or maybe expression of feeling for her former parents was unrealistic. Even if she didn't feel very close to them, I think she would have spent more time mourning them along with Kiernan. Some other parts seemed a little rushed and undeveloped, like her relationship with her aunt. It also lacks the sparkling language and style of some of the other similar books in the read-alikes below, but still is a very strong debut and a great read.
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Princess Ben by Catherine Murdock
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Crown and Court Duet by Sherwood Smith
BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
maybe a few
some implied stuff, but really very mild
just a little bit, none of it descriptive
Overall rating: ****
Do you have a favorite princess/royalty/courtly intrigue book?
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