Title: Crown of Coral and Pearl
Author: Mara Rutherford
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Inkyard Press
No. of pages: Hardcover, 432
Publication Date: August 27, 2019
Date Read: July 7, 2019
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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.
Many thanks to Inkyard Press for sending me an advanced e-copy of the book!
Crown of Coral and Pearl has probably one of my most favorite reads of 2019. Y’all. I couldn’t put this book down. I finished it at 2:30 in the morning and it was one that I definitely won’t regret staying up late for. Rutherford knows how to write a book that will leave you wanting more…. Especially with how it ends.
Crown of Coral and Pearl follows Nor, a twin from Varenia, who has grown up in a culture that puts beauty before anything else. When the crown prince of Ilara comes of age to take the throne, Varenia sends them their most beautiful girl due to a thousand years old agreement between the two places. For all of their lives, Nor and Zadie were the front runners to be chosen until Nor survived a deadly accident which left her face permanently scarred. Zadie, now being the frontrunner indeed gets chosen to go to Ilara. There’s one problem: Zadie has fallen in love and no longer wants to go. After an incident at Zadie’s planning, Nor ends up going in Zadie’s place as the future queen of Ilara. Once on land, she finds out that the dreams she’s had of what it would be like is nothing like she’d hoped. The emissary that visited after Zadie was picked, Talin, was actually a prince, the prince to which she’s betrothed, Ceren, is actually a danger to himself and others, and Nor now lives in a mountain away from the sea she’s grown up in and the sun and air her lungs are used to. As she starts to learn her way around the castle, she finds that Ceren’s inventing something dangerous to her people. As she finds a way to stop him, Talin realizes who she is and things for Nor start to get messy. What follows is a story of survival, courage, and sacrifice that will keep you glued to the pages and you won’t want to put it down.
Starting this book, Rutherford does a really great job of setting the story up. And also creating and integrating it’s on mythological system for Varenia and Ilara. I loved getting more of these kingdoms and their cultures. Especially since in the book, these two nations/kingdoms/territories are intertwined.
Also, overall, I really loved Nor’s story. After all she did to make sure her sister was safe, she ended up once again making the biggest sacrifice for her sister in order to keep her from further harm. Granted, the whole book is from her perspective, but still. There’s something about Nor’s character that has always been strong. As she pretends to be Zadie, she realizes how much strength her sister had in order to see the good in everything. But as herself, Nor, constantly being told she was other due her “lost” beauty, finally gets a chance to see herself how someone else sees her both with the stain to cover her scar and without. Nor is probably one of my favorite characters to date. She does her best to not let Ceren get under her skin. She tries her hardest to understand the culture of the court. She secretly wishes that Talin would know it was her and not Zadie as the twin that arrived but knows that if he knows she might be in danger. Also, she’s fiercely loyal, not jut to her family, but also to those that she knows can’t defend themselves or innocent, like Ebb and the page boy.
I absolutely loved everything about this book. If I had one complaint is that the ending felt a bit rushed, a bit completed, and a bit unfinished. Crown of Coral and Pearl was sold as a one-book deal. While that does mean there is a bit of finality to this book, it also left ends that could be picked and finished in a second-book. I really hope that there’s another one because I need more of this story, more of these characters, and I really need to know what happens next. Rutherford has created a cast and world that you don’t want to leave. The suspense and action will keep you turning pages and I was so surprised when it ended. Crown of Coral and Pearl releases next Tuesday, August 27th! It would definitely be worth it to buy or to look for it in your local library! (And if your local library doesn’t have it, request it!) I can’t wait for y’all to read this book!
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, Crown of Coral and Pearl, will release from Harlequin Teen in Fall 2019.
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