Review: Crown of Coral and Pearl

From the publisher:

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.

Crown of Coral and Pearl is certainly a stunning cover in it’s simplicity. I’m not usually a sucker for pretty covers… though of late, with Bookstagram accounts (like ) and reviewers that include the covers in gorgeous backdrops, I have started to draw my eyes more to the aesthetic choices in a cover. The image of the crown itself, after reading the book, is a perfect representation of the story.

ANYWAY… no one comes to my reviews to listen to me blather on about cover art.

I’ve been a fan of YA books (as an adult, ahem, cough) since the trend of dystopian fiction. You know the ones I’m talking about, right? Hunger Games, Divergent, Harry Potter and all the other pop-culture references books-turned-epic-movie-franchises. I have enjoyed all of them. I finished Crown and Pearl and I instantly wanted it to be turned into a movie. To see the visuals that Mara has so carefully crafted in her writing brought to life would be a breathtaking movie. Are you listening, studios? Give me this movie.

Varenia is a floating village. In the middle of the ocean. It’s people are born and raised and die there. They are long lived (Nor references an elder who is nearly 150 years old at one point), and beautiful. They covet beauty to the extreme that a scar of any size could ruin a girl’s future as a bride. For only the most beautiful, unblemished, girl is chosen to be sent to land to become the princess of Ilara.

Gross, right? It’s a good thing this book isn’t focused on the obsession of beauty. It’s in there, sure, but it’s not the point of the book at all.

Romance is in the book too. I was glad that the romance wasn’t a love triangle. Those are trendy in YA and are boring and annoying story devices. Nor’s twin sister is in love with someone who isn’t a future prince. Nor meets a man and feels sparks-and-fizzles in her tummy that continues with her to New Castle and land. The right amount of sparkle is there for those who love a good romance but it isn’t so steamy-and-all-consuming. I liked that about the romance in this book.

Ultimately, this is a book about sisters and family. About having another half that is your twin. I found out at the end of the book that the author is a twin herself. It really made perfect sense that she was writing about twins the way she did. When Nor saw herself in the mirror and instantly realized that would be the only way she would know how her sister would age – since they were never to see each other again – that struck me.

“I realized that my world had never been small. It had been as boundless as my love for Zadie, stretching out before me as far as the eye could see and beyond.”

The villain in this book, Ceren, was never the sort to be redeemable. He wasn’t the villain you love to hate. He was awful. Truly awful. And you never really rooted for him at all. There were flashes of his humanity that Nor saw through and it gave you pause to consider his motives. To consider what drove him to be evil, like Nor does. In these flashes of humanity, I thought the author showcased herself as a brilliant writer. I kept wondering if Ceren was going to have a redemption arc of some kind because of those flashes. Would he be able to overcome his obsessions? Could he see past his anger and hurt? These are the questions that had me flipping pages to find out.

Prince Talin is the good brother – the one you root for. He isn’t Nor’s savior though. Sure, he helps her out sometimes, but he isn’t the source of her strength. The journey Nor takes us on is one of self-realization. Of having inner strength. Of having convictions and following them even when the choices are hard to make. It’s great that there is the spark-fizz of touches and kisses.

I know a lot of people like romance to drive a story and when it’s done well I enjoy it too. Nor clearly feels something for Talin and he for her. It simply isn’t the focus of the story and I was glad for it. I liked that Nor was her own hero, that she drove herself, that she survived because of her own will and strength.

Sorrow is good for the soul, Father had said after the incident, when I had recovered from the pain and sickness but had still not grown used to the feel of torn flesh on my otherwise flawless skin. Those who have never known pain or adversity are as shallow as the waves lapping on the shore.

I usually check my progress in a book as I’m reading, to anticipate when it’s ending, or to check and see if the plot is following the typical trends I expect. I didn’t check the progress on this book once. I was enjoying the journey and was invested in the characters.

I was absolutely bummed when it ended. I’m pretty sure there will be a second book and I’m super stoked for it. The ending of this book setup another easily and even if it doesn’t set one up, it leaves you satisfied.

I’m adding this to my —

Must Read in 2019 shout out.

I’d rate this book a 4 out of 5 stars. The world building was amazing and the characters were richly written and engaging. The pace of the beginning of the book got on my nerves. I already knew where the plot was taking us (to Ilara) and the waiting for Nor to be The Chosen One made me too impatient to enjoy the story. I’m hopeful that the next book in the series won’t take so long to build-up.

Also, I loved finding out that the author was a fellow Murderino. I was really surprised by her acknowledgement of Karen and Georgia. It really hit me that the community around My Favorite Murder is large and amazing. Stay sexy, and don’t get murdered!

book review

Jessica Means View All →

My professional background in biotechnology as a research chemist and as a veterinary technician has allowed me to have experienced two vastly different fields and for that I am thankful. In both careers, I have mentored, encouraged, and developed talent.

As a mother of two (a daughter and a son), I’m a self-proclaimed backyard chicken guru and someone who has “foster failed” nearly all the animals currently running the household. Oh, and I maintain a husband in my spare time.

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