Review: Crown of Coral and Pearl by Mara Rutherford

I’m still catching up ARCs from my initial requesting frenzy when I joined NetGalley last July. 😳 This debut YA fantasy was one such book, and I’m glad I finally got around to it.

Admittedly, I haven’t read a whole lot of YA fantasy over the last couple of years. I got a little burned out on them and started spacing them out a bit. Although the title of this book is very similar to a lot of other titles in the genre lately, the premise itself is quite fresh and original. Varenia, an ocean village filled with people who have never set foot on land, sends its most beautiful daughter each generation to the mainland to marry the prince of Ilara. Twins Nor and Zadie are acknowledged to be the most beautiful of their generation in Varenia (of course, one has a scar that somehow invalidates that beauty…🙄), but conditions for the ocean village have been in decline for years and political conflicts and royal intrigue abound on land, where the king of Ilara is dying and Princes Ceren and Talin are at odds.

The writing is good, although this book does follow a similar pattern to a lot of other YA fantasy that I have read. Love triangles (maybe), ambiguously motivated baddies, implausible events, and a bit of insta-love caused me some mild irritation, but not enough for me to stop reading. I did like Nor, the setting of Varenia and the court drama, and the story moves along quickly to an expected cliffhanger ending. Overall, I think this is a solid start to a promising series—I plan to read the next book when it comes out later this year.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.


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