Monday, January 20, 2014

Review of The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal

Egmont USA
The False Princess
by Eilis O'Neal
5 Scribbles

Nalia is the princess of Thorvaldor, trained in everything a princess must know to be a successful future queen; she has never known life outside of Thorvaldor’s walls. But, shortly after her sixteenth birthday, she is told that her life is a lie. Her parents are not her parents, and she is not the princess—she was chosen to stand in for the real princess so that a prophecy may be avoided. It seems an oracle had predicted that the real princess would die in her fifteenth year, and now that Nalia is sixteen, it is safe to bring the real princess home to the palace. In the course of one day Nalia loses everything she has ever known, including her name. Now she is Sinda Azaway, and she is sent to live with her aunt in Treb, a poor village in the countryside.  How will she ever adjust to this new life?
What appears on the surface to be a simple riches to rags story is so much more! Readers are connected to Sinda’s plight right away. We want her to succeed in her new world, and like Sinda, we only feel a little anger at the crown for betraying her. She is our friend; a kind girl who deserves some measure of happiness in the world, especially since she has been mistreated so badly by those who should have loved her. The real surprise in the story is when Sinda discovers she has magic, and in order to control it, she must leave Treb and return to the city to seek training. Once there, she reunites with a lost friend and discovers that things are not as they seem in the palace. There is still an imposter in the royal circle, and only Sinda can stop the conspiracy to overthrow the crown. Thus, Sinda must dig deep and find her spine, for it seems only she can save the kingdom. The author does an amazing job at plotting—weaving in elements from earlier in the story that seem irrelevant, but later are critical to Sinda’s success. Secondary characters are very well drawn, and the villains are easy to loathe. Although this seems to be a stand-alone novel, it could easily grow into a series. In fact, a series could emerge from a secondary character alone. Another great factor is the novel's unpredictability. At first blush the reader may think they are engaged in a sort of fairy tale, but it doesn’t take long to see that this novel is a tightly crafted mystery filled with intrigue and excitement around every corner. It’s got it all: magic, sword fights, mystery, and even a little romance.  It’s one of those books that will make you late for…well anything…because it’s impossible to put it down.  Readers who enjoy works like Princess Academy by Shannon Hale and Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers will find much to love in this book!


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