Crown of Coral and Pearl
By Mara Rutherford
Published August 2019 by Inkyard Press
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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Crown of Coral and Pearl is the first book in a series that I will for sure be devouring. I already am eagerly awaiting the second book because I want to know what happens next.
The book starts in a sea town of Varenia. There is no land to walk on. The houses are built on stilts in the sea and Varenia’s people use boats to travel between houses and buildings.
Nor, our main character, and her twin Zadie dive for oysters. They not only use the oysters as food, but because of the deadly blood coral that grows in Varenia, oysters can produce pink pearls. These pink pearls are traded with the Ilarians for money and supplies.
Ilara is a land village that rules over Varenia. Every twenty years, the most beautiful girl from Varenia is sent to Ilara to wed the future king and become queen.
The world building in this story was phenomenal. I really felt as though I was there in Varenia smelling the sea salt and feeling the waves gently rock the house. And the same goes for Ilara, although not nearly as lovely a place, I felt dank and cold in the mountain with Nor as she navigated her new settings. I love when I can picture the world I’m in and I definitely had a good mental picture of where we were the entire story.
Nor was a fantastic main character. I loved that she questioned things that, quite honestly, I wanted her to question. I really connected with her feeling of loyalty to her family and Varenia, and I was (and still am) rooting for her to save the day.
On the flip side, Prince Ceren was a fantastic villain. His backstory is set up so you feel so bad for him and want to love and coddle him. And yet, he’s cold and creepy so you’re also simultaneously disgusted too. It was a perfect set up for me and I felt myself at war with how I truly felt about him throughout the latter part of this book.
The only reason I knocked a star off from five stars is because I didn’t really connect with the romance in this story.
That said, Crown of Coral and Pearl is set up perfectly to delve into the second book, which I cannot wait to read!