Title: Crown of Coral and Pearl (Crown of Coral and Pearl #1)
Author: Mara Rutherford
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Publication 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.
Greetings 🙂 Crown of Coral and Pearl was one of my most anticipated approvals that I’ve gotten from Netgalley, and I was crazy stoked to read it.. Shoutout to Netgalley and Inkyard Press for the copy in exchange for an honest review!
I can never get enough of YA Fantasy, I truly believe that. I was immediately drawn into the world of Varenia and Ilara. I found the idea of a village at sea to be very fascinating, and the world building was very on point. I left with few questions about the world, and information was provided in well timed and paced chunks. Varenians are obsessed with beauty, as the only Varenian ever allowed to leave the village and walk on land is the most beautiful woman in the village – once every generation when a Prince is ready to be married. It is seen as a high honor to be chosen, and families will do just about anything to send their daughters away.
Nor and Zadie are twins (their names mean Coral and Pearl, respectively). They are easily the most beautiful women in Varenia, at least until Nor is injured saving Zadie from drowning. Zadie is now a shoe in to win, and Nor is a cast off in her mother’s eyes. The catch is that Zadie is in love with the Varenian Governor’s son, Sami. She will do anything to be able to stay with him, instead of bringing her family the highest honor. After Zadie makes some ill advised decisions, Nor is sent in Zadie’s place – but she must pretend to be Zadie. Both girls are strong in their own ways. Nor is the main focus, but she handles (most) of what’s thrown at her with grace.
The Princes are great. Ceren is a smol and hurt boy who is a classic villain. Very cruel, but enough sad moments to make you question whether he is actually bad. Talin is gorgeous and kind, but unfortunately the younger brother. They have an obvious, and predictable rivalry with Ceren being jealous of the more liked brother and Talin being jealous that he wasn’t born first.
My single critique of this book is that it was highly predictable. If you read enough YA Fantasy, you begin to see a common framework for most novels. A lot of the plot moved through predictable lines. The ending also seemed very rushed, and not as well thought out. This did not severely impact my enjoyment of the book, so it only bumped the book down from 5 stars slightly.
This book brings light romance, political intrigue, and strong, confident women. Originally intended to be a duology, but sold as a stand alone, Crown of Coral and Pearl has an ending that leaves more to be told while still being wrapped up. A sequel has been ordered by the publisher though, so more Nor and Zadie will be upon us next year (hopefully). I for one, will be purchasing a copy of Crown of Coral and Pearl – along with Kingdom of Sea and Stone when released!
Happy reading, book friends! 🙂