Hellooo lovelies! Happy Saturday! I just wanted to pop on and post a bit of a review. I’ve slowly but surely been pulling myself out of a reading slump and I’ve actually finished two pretty decent books! One of which I’m going to be gushing about today!
Sometime last week I finished Crown if Coral and Pearl by Mara Rutherford. This is a story about a quiet floating colony of Varenia who, every twenty years or so I’ve to give the most beautiful girl in the village to the prince of Ilara to marry. We follow Nor and Zadie (primarily Nor) who have been waiting their whole lives to be chosen, but here’s the catch. Nor was scarred during a childhood accident and doesn’t think she’ll be chosen… not to mention her sister is not only the most beautiful, but the sweetest girl in the village. Not long before she’s sent off to marry the prince, Zadie is in a terrible accident and… you guessed it the elders decided to send her twin (Nor) in her place so that the village wouldn’t be punished. This leads to a whole lot of court intrigue and secrets that are revealed to Nor during her time in Ilara.
Let me kick this off by saying I REALLY enjoyed the story. There wasn’t much magic like I was expecting, but it was kind of refreshing to have a YA fantasy that was more about the political intrigue. That is to say there weren’t magical qualitiies to the story, like the pearls that the people of Varenia harvest for the Illaran people, or Nor’s secret ability. Overall, though there was very much a lack of magic and a heavy focus on like why the Varenians have to give a bride to the Illaran thrown, but I won’t go too deeply into that because… spoilers!
The one major issue I had with the story was the pacing. I think that, overall, that is always an issue for me when I read books, but I digress. I just felt that there was a lot of downtime where Nor’s character was being developed super slowly and things weren’t being revealed. This is probably not going to be much of an issue for anyone else, I just like my books fast paced. Admittedly this story did pick up about 3/4 of the way through, when everything was being tied up into a near bow for the sequel.
Some of the other bits I liked about this story was how big a part family and familial relationships played in this story. Nor and Zadie were so close with their parents and their childhood friend, Sami. It was so heartbreaking to read about how Nor was willing to give up these relationships to save her sister and her community. It really was a big part of her character development, and let me tell you, Nor truly changed over the course of the novel. She went from someone naive but slightly headstrong to someone who looked at the overall situation and assessed what needed to be done. And she didn’t let her attraction to the princes brother get in the way of what she thought her duty was!
Before I leave you guys, let me just say the characters were well developed and interesting. I didn’t feel as though any character in particular was one dimensional with no growth. Even minor characters like Nor’s handmaid had an interesting backstory and deep emotions. I especially loved the downward spiral of the antagonist, the prince. It was so interesting to see him through Nor’s eyes and watch him go a little crazy!
Overall this was a super fun read! I definitely mend it for those of you who prefer the political side of high fantasy. I wouldn’t compare it to Game of Thrones, but the intrigue was well developed and the secrets/mysteries were fun to watch unravel. I cannot wait for the sequel!