The False Princess is a YA fantasy adventure written by debut author Eilis O'Neal.
Nalia is the princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor - she has been groomed for the role since infancy with classes in deportment, history, and languages. She is polite and demure, maybe not as outgoing as a princess should be - but she does her best, and tries to keep her natural clumsiness at bay. She spends her days on the palace grounds, comfortable in the close friendship of Kiernan, a nobleman's son.
However, soon after her sixteenth birthday Nalia is called to her parents and dealt a blow. The prophecy that was made regarding baby Nalia was that she would be killed before she turned sixteen. They hid the baby away for her protection and replaced her with a false princess, a stand-in. Now that danger appears to have passed, they will send for the true Nalia, who has been raised with education believing herself to be an orphan, and the girl who has been the princess for sixteen years will be sent to her only surviving relative with a new name. Her real name. Sinda.
Sinda is almost numb from the shock and suddenness of everything. Before she begins to register the startling change in her station, she is far away from her best friend Kiernan and being taught how to perform simple household tasks by her Aunt, who never expected a new household member - nor perhaps wanted one.
But Sinda's life is forever marred, as she cannot successfully be a village girl - yet she is no longer a princess. And when long-supressed, dangerous magic in her veins makes itself known, she decides to return to the city to seek answers and help in controlling it. And maybe a sense of being closer to the home she had known her entire life...
What she finds instead are more questions - and secrets that were never meant to be unveiled. A plot involving the throne that may go deeper than a mere false princess...
First off - is the premise amazing or what?! Right away, I was bewitched and enchanted. The False Princess delivers on it in spades, and the fairy-tale atmosphere and tone is set immediately. O'Neal manages to make the story heartbreaking and gripping, giving a power behind the deceptively simple weaving of words. The journey of Sinda is touching and riveting as it forges unknown and exciting directions.
So, I obviously liked it, right? Yep! In fact, I more than liked it... I loved it! I loved the way magic was introduced and how Sinda's world feels so big and fully realized. This quiet, yet strong in her own way, girl that we have as our main character is so easy to follow and root for in a poignant, understated fantasy journey - a journey that has heart and soul.
There's a truly awesome air to the novel, making me feel like I'm there - like I'm the one going through what Sinda is going through. This, in my opinion, is a sign of a fantastic story and extreme writing skills on Eilis O'Neal's part. The False Princess is a perfect combination of healing self-discovery and entertaining escapism, stacking eccentric, likable, multilayered characters and shocking twists to make an honestly delicious sandwich of a novel.
Getting hungry yet?
No? Well, let me give you a few more adjectives to whet your appetite...
The False Princess has that great political court intrigue and superbly plotted revelations that add a heavy, excellent dose of secrets and fun - as well raw human emotions to keep it grounded. There is romance, too! A lingering, enchanting promise of love that builds slowly but grows stronger as the novel continues.
With its cloak-and-dagger adventure and suspense, dangerous mysteries, intelligent characters, and captivating dash of magical fantasy, The False Princess left me breathless and wholly and completely satisfied.
I hope Eilis O'Neal writes more soon - as these are the kinds of books that turned me into a bibliophile in the first place!!!