Title: Crown of Coral and Pearl
Author: Mara Rutherford
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Release Date: August 27th, 2019
Series: Crown of Coral and Pearl #1
Synopsis: 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.”
“Nor and Zadie: coral and pearl. Both precious to our people, both beautiful enough to adorn the necks of queens. But whereas a pearl is prized for its luster, its shape, its lack of imperfections, coral is different. It grows twisted. In its natural form, it can hardly be considered beautiful at all.”
In the village of Varenia, girls are raised on the belief that beauty is power. For every so often, a Varenian girl will be chosen to be sent off to marry the Prince of Ilara and become the next Queen, the highest honor to receive in their small village. When Nor and Zadie are born, there is no doubt in anyones mind who will be chosen when the time comes. But a terrible accident leaves Nor with a scar on her cheek when she is young. No longer having a chance to be picked as the most beautiful girl in Varenia, Nor accepts her fate and watches as Zadie is groomed by their mother for the future that undoubtedly awaits her. So it comes as no surprise when the elders pick Zadie to go ashore. But Zadie does not want to go and when she suffers a grievious injury before she is set to sail to Ilara, Nor is sent in her place instead.
And so, Nor heads to Ilara to be wed to a man she has never met and rule a land she has never been to before. What starts out as excitement very quickly turns to dismay as Ilara proves to be nothing like what she expected. Growing up on the ocean, Nor is used to sunshine and openness and when she learns she will be living inside a mountain, she can’t help but long to go home.
“There is no hope for any of us, child. We are all trapped in this mountain like lobsters in a cage, waiting for our turn to die.”
On top of that, she quickly finds out that the man she is to be wed to, is a horrid, cold man with many secrets and a beyond alarming obsession with the pearls her village harvests. Nor soon learns that there is much more going on than what her people have been lead to believe and that they are in danger.
Wow! There was just so much amazing-ness in this!😍 Nor and Zadies relationship was so beautiful! I’d say almost the first half of this book focuses on the relationship between the two and what it was like growing up in a place that values beauty above all else and I absolutely loved reading of their sisterly bond. The world building was excellent. I felt like I was right there with Nor the whole time as she navigated new lands and new people. There’s tension! Twists and turns! Some romance(but not an overpowering romance)! Wonderful growth with our leading lady. A villian whom you want to like but then he goes and does awful things, and no why did he do that I almost thought I liked him! A shocking ending! Literally, I gasped when I read it. This was a beautifully written YA Fantasy and please give me the sequel now!😅
*I received this book for free from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*