Crown of Coral and Pearl

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Harlequin, Aug 27, 2019 - Young Adult Fiction - 304 pages
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.

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This was quite honestly an intense read with on-point worldbuilding and beautiful characters. There are many twists and turns and the relationship between the twins simply appeared to be real-life feels. This debut is off to a fantastic start!
{I requested a review copy via NetGalley and made no guarantee of a favorable review. The opinions contained herein are unbiased and my own.}

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I absolutely love fantasy of all kinds, and the offerings in YA fantasy have been utterly phenomenal the past 5 or 6 years that I’ve been reading them. Naturally, I immediately added Crown of Coral and Pearl to my TBR list when I first heard about it, and then jumped at the chance to be part of this blog tour. This is one of those books that I expected to like going in, but was not prepared for how quickly I was sucked in and just how much I loved it!
I was hooked into this story from pretty much the first words, and I mean that honestly. It’s not uncommon for me to have to read a few chapters to warm up to a story, especially from a new-to-me author, but that was not the case here at all! I started reading it before bed one night and before I knew it, it was 2 hours later and I was almost 70% done! I just could not stop reading, so immersed was I in the world that Ms. Rutherford created. The world-building is excellent, and I could picture Varenia and Ilara, Old Castle and New Castle, and the Port Market in my head perfectly. The characters are all vibrant and feel so real, especially, of course, Nor and Zadie. These twin sisters are a force to be reckoned with! Brothers Talin and Ceren are as different as Nor and Zadie are alike, and this contrast between the two pairs of siblings is fascinating. There are twists and turns galore here, too, including a rather shocking ending--though I have a feeling things may not have truly ended how we think they did, and I now cannot wait for the sequel to hit my hands! Seriously, there is just so much amazingness (is that a word?) to this story and I am so ready to dive back in (no pun intended) to the world with which Ms. Rutherford has gifted us.
I refuse to give any spoilers to this amazing story, so I want to stop before I say too much, but I promise that if you like fantasy--especially involving strong young women, dashing princes, daring adventures, and plot twists galore--you will love Crown of Coral and Pearl! Please do let me know how you like it once you pick it up yourself!
Rating: 5 stars for this brilliant debut!
**Disclosure: I received an early e-copy of this book for purposes of this blog tour. This review is voluntary on my part and reflects my honest rating and review.

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About the author (2019)

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 along with her Marine-turned-diplomat husband. A triplet born on Leap Day, Mara holds a Master's degree in Cultural Studies from the University of London.

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