29. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fantasy, Teen Books, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal, 319 pages, read by Courtney, on 03/12/2013

Nalia has spent the better part of her 16 years preparing to become the Queen of her country. Shortly after her 16th birthday, she is informed that, due to an ominous prophecy, she was switched at birth and is, in fact, a false princess. The real princess has been living in a convent and is equally clueless as to her own identity. The prophecy only indicated death for the princess prior to her turning sixteen, so now that the deadline has passed, the real princess can be crowned. Nalia, now called Sinda, is sent to her aunt’s cottage in a country village. After failing at the wool dyeing trade and accidentally discovering that she possesses magic, Sinda decided to head back to the capitol. An attempt to join the Wizardry school fails on account of her “common” ancestry and Sinda finds herself being taken under the wing of an eccentric witch who offers to teach her control in exchange for scribe work. In the capitol, Sinda uncovers evidence that may suggest there is more to the official royal story than anyone suspects, even the royal family. In order to figure out her place in the world, Sinda feels compelled to set everything straight in spite of the danger it may cause her.
This is a lovely stand-alone fantasy. The plot moves exceedingly fast and covers a lot of ground, something that seems rare in a publishing world focused on series. Sinda feels like a genuine person; she is flawed, she second-guesses herself, she works hard to figure out who she is and how she fits into things. The concept of a character being forced to completely redefine themselves is fascinating. The use of magic in the book adds to the overall flavor without being the centerpiece of the action. Elements of faith, trust, corruption, love and friendship round out this story that is largely appropriate for all ages.

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