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.
– My Thoughts –
“Sorrow is good for the soul, Father had said after the incident, when I had recovered from the pain and sickness but had still not grown used to the feel of the torn flesh on my otherwise flawless skin. “Those who have never known pain or adversity are as shallow as the waves lapping on the shore.”
“And what is wrong with being shallow?” I’d asked him.
“What lies beneath the surface of shallow waters? Nothing. It’s only when you go deeper that the ocean comes alive. The deeper you go, the more mysteries and surprises await.”
Crown of Coral and Pearl by Mara Rutherford is a fantasy about how love can destroy and how it can rebuild.
Nor and Zadie are two sisters from a place called Varenia that has been oppressed by the people of Ilara for centuries. It is a tradition that every time an Ilarian Prince is of age, a Varenian daughter of great beauty must be married to him. Nor and Zadie like every other girl in Varenia have to abide by strict rules of beauty. Every girl in Varenia must be nothing short of perfect. Fortunately( or, unfortunately) Nor doesn’t have to worry about keeping to her beauty regimen as she’s already been scarred since she was seven years old. When the time comes for the new Prince of Ilara to be married, the village elders choose Zadie as the bride-to-be. Zadie not only doesn’t want to get married to the Prince but she also doesn’t want to leave her beloved twin sister.
So, she devises a plan that has devastating consequences. Not only is Zadie gravely injured but the sisters’ mother thinks that Nor was the one who did it. Amidst the suspicious gaze of the villagers, Nor readies herself to take Zadie’s place as the future queen of Ilaria.
I loved the first half of the book more than its second half. Althought the summary tells us what happens in the first half, it’s still enjoyable due to the atmospheric world-building, beautiful description of the various relationships, history of Varenia and Ilara. My heart cried out when Nor was leaving Varenia and Zadie; their love was so pure and captivating that I fell in love with the book at that very moment.
The second half was interesting but lost the magic of the first half. Nor arrives in court and lo and behold, the emissary of Ilara Talin whom she met in Varenia is one of the Ilarian princes. She is to marry his older brother Ceren and he is such a Joffrey ( you know..from GOT!!). I don’t know if I should warn about an insta-love trope between Talin and Nor because it felt more like insta-attraction to me. I read through some of their chapters and they didn’t exactly say they love each other. I really hope to see more development on both of their parts in the sequel rather than fall headfirst into love.
Ceren was a Joffrey sure but you will sympathize with him in some parts of the book and then you know.. fall in utter hate with him. With that said..am I looking forward to the sequel? Definitely! There were a lot of things that were open ended and I need a book two for those and I’m definitely here for more Nor and Zadie!!
Overall, I would highly recommend this book if you love books about the bond between sisters, engaging YA fantasy in a unique setting, wonderful worldbuilding, and easy writing to immerse yourself in.
Thanks to the publisher for gifting me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
– About the Author –
Mara Rutherford began her writing career as a journalist but quickly discovered she far preferred fantasy to reality. Originally from California, Mara has since lived all over the world, from Russia to Peru, along with her Marine-turned-diplomat husband and two sons. A triplet born on Leap Day, Mara holds a Master’s degree in Cultural Studies from the University of London and would rather study the folklore of her next post than the language (which she has found is a lot more fun but not nearly as useful). She is a former Pitch Wars mentee and three-time mentor. Her debut YA fantasy, CORAL AND PEARL, will release from Harlequin Teen in Fall 2019.
– Giveaway –
Win (1) of (15) copies of CROWN OF CORAL AND PEARL by Mara Rutherford (US ONLY)! Ends on 2nd September 2019. Just click on the button below to enter:
– Tour Schedule –
Click on this link to view the entire tour schedule!