The False Princess (ARC) by Eilis O'Neal
Pub. Date: January 25th, 2011
Age Level: 11+
Source: From publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis via Goodreads
Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia's led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when it's revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she's ever known.
Sinda is sent to live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. She is a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, and Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks. But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins - long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control - she realizes that she can never learn to be a simple village girl.
Returning to Vivaskari for answers, Sinda finds her purpose as a wizard scribe, rediscovers the boy who saw her all along, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor's history, forever.
Brimming with both love and betrayal, The False Princess is an enchanting page-turner from debut YA author, Eilis O'Neal.
Sinda was a very well-developed and realistically complex character. When Sinda was told the truth about who she was and sent away, I at first viewed her poorly for not taking more of a stand against the king and queen. However, the more I thought about it the more I realized that, considering how she'd spent her whole life, she reacted in a way that most girls in her situation would have, too shocked to do anything. Sinda did, indeed, grow stronger as a character throughout the story though. Her doubts and confusion over whether she'd made the right decisions were believable, especially considering their importance. While her motives behind trying to set everything right again for Thorvaldor could sometimes be a bit muddled, even for her, I still admired her bravery and determination. Then we have Kiernan, the charming, somewhat bit of a trouble maker, and swoon-worthy best friend, turned romantic interest. He was always there for Sinda, despite everything, even when she didn't know it, and I really loved that loyalty in him. Philantha, the unorthodox master wizard, was a fun addition to the cast of characters despite her more minor role. There were other great supporting characters as well, including Mika, Orianne, and Melaina; however I feel to discuss them further could easily spoil the book, so I won't.
In the very beginning, the magical aspect of the plot didn't quite seem to merge well with the rest, instead feeling very separate as though the magic was something just thrown in here and there. However, as the story progressed, everything quickly pulled together quite fluidly. There were a lot of different elements to the plot but they were masterfully intertwined and I never felt overwhelmed. I loved the sense of mystery and adventure that The False Princess provided and while there was some stuff that I could guess, it managed to hold on to some clever surprise twists.
O'Neal's writing style was lovely, consistently engrossing, and beautifully descriptive. The intense emotion that I would feel at times when reading The False Princess was both unexpected and welcome. There were times when I found myself close to tears and I can truly say that, in that way, the writing really helped me connect more with the characters.
The ending was very bittersweet as well as hopeful and I felt that O'Neal drew everything to a close very efficiently.
All in all, The False Princess is a stunning and multi-faceted contribution to the YA historical fiction genre. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and would highly recommend it to anyone, from upper middle graders to adults. I can't wait for Eilis O'Neal to come out with another book and I give her kudos for a job well done on her first novel.
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Monday, January 17, 2011
The False Princess (ARC) by Eilis O'Neal
Posted by ~The Book Pixie at 1/17/2011 09:00:00 AM