Crown of Coral and Pearl
By Mara Rutherford
Published on August 27, 2019 by Inkyard Press
Find it here on Amazon!
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.
I received this as an eARC from NetGalley in return for my honest review, and man do I not regret that. This is supposedly the first novel in a series from a brand-new author, but it doesn’t read that way AT ALL.
This book touched on SO MANY things, but before I get into all of that, have my quick summary!
This book (with its absolutely beautiful cover, by the way, can we please discuss that real quick? *drools*) follows Nor, a young woman from a floating village called Varenia. The Goodreads summary really covers the important points, but it downplays how MUCH importance Varenians place on physical beauty.
I picture Nor and her twin sister Zadie’s mother to be one of those crazy dance moms you see on those TV shows. The sisters are forbidden from doing so many fun things (mostly Zadie, as Nor has a small pink scar on her face, which is considered her “deformity”), all on the fear that something will happen to injure one of them and permanently scar.
She’s a terrible person. I GUESS she has her reasons for it, maybe? But I don’t really think they justify how awful she is as a person and a mother.
The story really gets started when Zadie IS injured after being chosen by the village elders to travel to Ilara and marry the prince. No one but Nor can go in her place because reasons. Adventures ensue, people aren’t who you think they are, and plot twist-y and romantic things happen.
I LOVED this book. I really did. As I said before, the writing style is so descriptive and AMAZING, that you really can’t tell this is Mara Rutherford’s first novel.
She touches on beauty and its importance in society in such a spectacular way. You follow Nor’s personal growth as she learns that the tiny scar on her cheek is not nearly as important as the strong and capable woman she is on the inside, and that there are much more important things in life and society than how one looks on the outside.
You can’t help but empathize with Nor and Zadie’s situation from the beginning, and the sisterly bond between the twins hit me particularly hard, as my own sister is my best friend in the entire world. They would do anything for each other, and they do, constantly.
I did get a little annoyed with Nor throughout the middle of the book, as she can be incredibly naive and trusting. She can’t really be blamed for this, though, because she’s spent her entire 17 years of life living in a small floating village that had no (or at least very limited) contact with outsiders. They aren’t allowed to step foot on land, because reasons.
She quickly moves passed that, and becomes a strong and awesome heroine. As for the hero…WOO BOY the chemistry between her and Prince Talin is off the charts from the beginning. I adore that man, I really do. It was a little insta-love, for me, but it worked.
There are some plot twists that happen that, if I’m being totally honest, were rather predictable from the beginning. This didn’t come close to ruining the story for me, though, and they should make for awesomeness in the sequel.
The only problem that I have now with this book is that I’ve read it so early. I have, like, an ENTIRE YEAR before the sequel comes out.
I. Can’t. WAIT.
I’d give this book a solid 4 drops, bordering on 4.5! This was a great read, and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone!
If you liked this review, go and check out some of my other ones here!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.