Title: Crown of Coral and Pearl
Author: Mara Rutherford
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Version: ARC – ebook
Page Count: 432
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Notable Notables: Solid world-building and original ideas
Recommended Readers: Those wanting to give a new author and a new fantasy a chance
Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher, for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review—and sorry it’s a tad bit late.
Crown of Coral and Pearl by Mara Rutherford is definitely a book I’m conflicted by. I certainly didn’t dislike reading it, but I didn’t fall in love with it, either. It’s got a great plot setup that mostly needs more character polish. I was in sync with the book’s pacing as I read, but after looking back at the full summary it boasts, I would not be surprised if other people have a dissimilar experience. The summary reveals a lot of the plot, and if you read it thoroughly beforehand, you may start to get impatient for new things to happen and actual surprises to be revealed. Speaking of, here’s a bit of that summary, so perhaps read with caution.
The daughters of Varenia, a small village constructed on the ocean, are prized for their beauty above all. The only thing that rivals their beauty is the value of the blood pearls, which the Varenians harvest and sell to the kingdom of Ilara in exchange for food, water, and other living necessities. However, the blood pearls are becoming scarce, the waters are over-fished, and it’s almost time for Ilara to choose a Varenian daughter to marry the Crown Prince. Because of the scar on her face, Nor knows that her twin sister Zadie will be chosen, but after harm befalls her, Nor is sent in her stead. Forced to live as her sister, Nor believes she will still find the freedom in Ilara that she never knew in Varenia along with a way to intercede for her home. Yet her betrothed, Prince Ceren, is as cold as his underground mountain palace, and Nor finds herself caught in a web of politics involving the royal family and her people—while harboring feelings for Ceren’s brother, Prince Talin, she should not have.