Ailsbet’s lack of the traditional women’s magic has forced her to grow strong in other ways, surviving in her tyrannical father’s court while longing to live somewhere that music is more valued. In a neighboring kingdom, the princess Marissa loves her magic and looks forward to becoming a leader who can help her land. Diplomatic clashes between the two kingdoms will force both princesses to consider what they want and what they are willing to sacrifice for their kingdoms.
The characters in this book had great personalities, especially the two princesses who were both strong female leads in very different ways. Their family members and love interests also all had distinct and memorable personalities. Unusually for a YA book, the author was able to surprise me several times as characters reveled hidden depths; people unexpectedly died; or unanticipated complications arose. None of the surprises were bad or unbelievable and I enjoyed the novelty of being truly surprised by a story.
Somehow despite loving the characters and the plot twists, I didn’t fall in love with the story as a whole. I enjoyed it, but it lacked a certain epic-ness. The world was interesting without being intricate and most background was given in a brief information dump at the beginning of the book. And while the characters were in a few dangerous situations, I never felt pulled to the edge of my seat worrying about them. In fact, a lot of their time was spent worrying about boys. To be fair, who they married was a matter of national importance. They weren’t just self-absorbed. However, the author did frame things in such a way that who they married seemed like the primary concern. Personally, I would prefer to spend time being concerned about their kingdoms. That said, I enjoyed reading this book and while it felt average, it had some strong points that could lead to a very good second book if their was some more action.
This review first published on Doing Dewey