Thursday, July 19, 2012

The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal

Published January 25th, 2011.

Author website.

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.  (

I really liked THE FALSE PRINCESS.  I wasn't blown over by it but it was good.  YA needs more good books like this.  I'm not asking for much; not all books need to have me squealing with joy.  But if I came across more genuinely good books like THE FALSE PRINCESS I'd be a hell of a lot happier reader.

One, it's a stand-alone fantasy.  Let me say that again: STAND-ALONE FANTASY.  These things are about as common as unicorns at bus stops.

Two, the story is great.  Nalia/Sinda gets ousted as the false princess right from the get-go and even while I hardly knew the character I was just as thrown by the whole event as she was.  And I knew it was coming!  But it was the reaction of the king and queen, these two people that raised this false child, effectively casting her out with nothing so they can bring in their own kid.  Nalia/Sinda who was functioning as prophecy bait, a peasant sacrifice JUST IN CASE the prophecy came true to be discarded after she was no longer useful.  It's heart-wrenching.  And it's that single event, right in the first chapter, that pulled me into Sinda's character and kept me hooked on her plight.

Three, Sinda's pretty awesome.  The fact that she fared as well as she did once she was booted out of the castle was amazing.  But even despite her strength she was still naive, at times pig-headed and rash, especially when holes started unraveling and smoke started to lift from the world.  At her irrational moments she had her irrationality thrown back in her face only to make more irrational decisions as a result.  But everything she did, despite what her loved ones said, she did because of a higher order.  This thing was far more important than the saving grace of some peasant girl: her.  Although the disposable notion stuck in her head was likely a result of being thrown out like kitchen trash by people she thought were her parents but it fueled the story.  Hey, I can handle some conveniences if they make sense.

Four, Kiernan is the type of love interest all other YA love interests should aspire to.  He has no desire to see harm come to Sinda but he doesn't do things for her because "it's for her own good."  When things get too insane for him he actually says so and steps away.  He knew better than to try and hold Sinda back.  As if he even could.  Plus he was a life-long friend first and foremost.  No insta-love here!  And no love triangle.  Hooray!

Five, have I mentioned it's a stand-alone?  The ending was a bit of a shock; I certainly didn't see it coming (although I've admitted it before and I'll admit it again, I'm pretty dense when it comes to seeing this stuff in books) but the majority of the loose ends tied themselves up nicely by the end of it all.  It was almost a touch too saccharine but I was okay with it.  Of course there were a couple of threads hanging.  There's so much more of Sinda's magic that could be explored.  Someone could take advantage of the court discord, prompting a new quest for her and Kiernan.  But there was such a high satisfaction level to the ending that I find so incredibly rare in YA that I found myself wholly fulfilled.

The fantasy is a bit low with the use of magic and perhaps the oracles being the extent of it and the world is your standard medieval-type fantasy land but it's a good story with pretty awesome characters. I'm sad that there isn't more to THE FALSE PRINCESS but in the same vein it's so nice to have a stand-alone, let alone a fantasy stand-alone, that I will be incredibly happy with what I get.  It's just plain good.

I'm adding THE FALSE PRINCESS to my Summer Blast Giveaway!  If you want your chance to win it be sure to enter!
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