Friday, January 21, 2011

YA book review: The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: EgmontUSA (January 25, 2011)

Summary: 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.

My review: Princess Nalia learns one day she is a fraud, a replacement for the real princess prophesized to be killed by her sixteenth birthday. Now her parents, or should we say the King and Queen, say she is no longer needed. Just like that she's out of the castle with a trunk filled with some semi-decent dresses and a bag of coins, off to live with an aunt who never knew she existed. And this is just in the beginning.

Nalia slowly becomes who she really is: Sinda Azaway, a commoner. Her heart, along with her best friend, Keirnan, are back at the castle in Thorvaldor. As she struggles to learn the uneasy trade of color dying and locating the proper plants to utilize from her cold aunt, Sinda discovers she has magic inside her from her real mother. This magic, untrained and wild, could be deadly. Sinda decides she has to find help in tempering her new talent, and seeks it from a college for wizards. Being poor is not to her advantage and as she sulks, the magic inside her begins to leak out, bringing her to the attention of an eccentric Master Class magician, Philantha. From there, Sinda's life begins to change. Drama, action, mystery, magic and a reunion with Keirnan all follow, along with murder, a map to decipher, and the quest to find the true princess.

Sinda is a wonderful character surrounded by a colorful and endearing cast. A feisty young woman determined to succeed on her quest for the true heir, she makes mistakes, learns to yield her powers and admits her true feelings for the guy she grew up with. O'Neal nails the emotional, angsty teen voice and gives readers a strong heroine to root for. The protagonist is someone we can really despise and the magical moments are thrilling to read.

Fun, romantic, witty, fantastical, mysterious, deadly. The False Princess has it all and that makes this book an excellent fantasy. I absolutely loved this book.

Rating: ++++

Favorite excerpt: "But Kiernan had curled his lips up and closed his eyes. "That's what it really comes down to, doesn't it? That's why we can't tell. This isn't about having enough proof, or even about Philantha getting hurt. You have to find her yourself. This isn't just about the country, or the throne. This is about you proving that you're not nobody. If you can't be the princess, you'll be the savoir of the princess."

Another feeling of being kicked, but this one hit harder, right in a place I had been trying to shield. "No," I whispered, but it came out low.

"You can't be just a scribe, or a wizard. Nameless God," he cried, raking a hand through his hair. "I wish they had never found you, never made you think you were the princess. Nothing else will ever be good enough, not now. You'll never be happy. You'll throw yourself into danger, take it all on yourself, just to prove that they were all wrong about you. And I just--I just--"

And without warning, he stepped in front of me, grabbed my shoulders to stop my pacing, and kissed me."  (From pages 220-221, ARC.)

Cover comment: I like the partial view of Nalia/Sinda and the open locket.

Book source: International Book tours


  1. This sounds really interesting! I love that it's a twist on the old clique. Instead of a commoner discovering she's a princess it's turned around. Love that!

  2. Sounds like a fun read! I can't wait to snag a copy of this one. Thanks for sharing your thoughts ;)

  3. We agree Heather! it's about time to switch it up!

    Thanks Cialina. Hope you can get a copy and read it.