Title: Crown of Coral and Pearl
Author: Mara Rutherford
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Publication Date: 27 August 2019
Source: ARC from Publisher (Won in Giveaway)
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 won a proof copy of Crown of Coral and Pearl in a giveaway hosted by the publishers. It looked right up my alley, so I was keen to get reading, and overall, I found it entertaining. If you are a fan of YA fantasy, this book will tick all the boxes. That made it predictable at times, but there was still enough originality to hold my interest. Where the book fell down for me was in the main romance and the ending. The first had a real instalove sense about it, with no build-up of a relationship between the characters--just lust at first sight. Meanwhile, the ending felt rushed. Everything suddenly wrapped up in a single chapter, with a deus ex machina conveniently tied to secondary plot elements. I had been wondering what the point of these vaguely mentioned issues was, and clearly it was simply to provide a solution to the tale. To my mind, the book would have worked better as a duology, with more time taken to flesh out some of these other elements, and greater opportunity to develop the romance between Talin and Nor. But, as it stands, I would give it 3.5 stars. There were some original elements I enjoyed and, as I said, it will tick a lot of boxes for YA fantasy addicts.