Title: Crown of Coral and Pearl
Author: Mara Rutherford
Series: Crown of Coral and Pearl #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Publication date: August 27th, 2019
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.
“In Varenia, being a beautiful girl wasn’t just lucky. Once every generation, it determined which one of us would become a princess.”
I admit I was so looking forward for this upcoming release, because it had such an interesting synopsis and I tend to love stories that are more focused on the sea or sea living (especially in fantasy), so I went with pretty high expectations into Crown of Coral and Pearl, and overall I have to say that though it didn’t blow me away as much as I hoped, it was a solid read and I enjoyed it.
The thing that I found this particular book had was that it was a pretty common YA fantasy plot. I feel I’ve read these characters and this type of plot before in other young adult books after all these years, so it wasn’t as refreshing as I thought. Though it was a super fast paced story and it was so easy to get into it, it’s true that sometimes, especially once we reached the half mark of the story, that plot weaken and I had the sense that nothing was actually happening. The beginning and ending were a bit stronger and I liked them more, because there were some actual things that kept the plot flowing.
Another issue that I had was regarding the magic system and the world building. Though we got time to explore the world and the society a bit throughout the novel, there was a lot of info dump thrown at us in the first couple of chapters, and I personally like my fantasy books to provide that information as I keep reading the story and not everything at the very beginning, because that’ll only make me more confused and I’m not going to remember it in the end. Also, I felt a lot of explanations about the magic were a bit lacking. The concept of corals and pearls was super unique, and I just wish we’d known more about them.
I squeezed Zadie’s hand behind his back and wished the sun would never set. The ocean never gave gifts without expecting something in return, it was said, and Thalos was a hungry god.”
When it comes to the characters, I have to say I ended up changing my mind about them. At the beginning I wasn’t the biggest fan of our protagonist Nor. She was pretty flat and average, and there was something about her that didn’t really make her stand out from other main characters I’ve read in the past. However, I really enjoyed her development throughout the story, and to see her grow so much. She had a very interesting arc, and I liked to see her interact with different characters and stood out for herself.
Another element I really appreciated seeing was the connection between the two sisters. Though we didn’t get to see it that much because during most of the novel they were apart, I feel the reactions and feelings were pretty realistic and made me empathize with Nor and what she was going through a lot more. I love me a good sisters’ relationship, and I think this one was well written.
Overall, though I had some mixed feelings about Crown of Coral an Pearl, it had some elements and tropes I don’t mind seeing in my YA books, and though the plot wasn’t amazing and I would have loved to know more about the magic, I consider this quite a solid story.
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This doesn’t change my opinion whatsoever. All thoughts are my own.
“Mother had given us one gift, at least, that no amount of time or distance could erase: each other.”
TW: mention and descriptions of cuts, mental and physical abuse.
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