Review: Crown of Coral and Pearl
Title: Crown of Coral and Pearl
Author: Mara Rutherford
Published: 27 August 2019
Format: Hardback, library book
Memorable Quote: “I was frightened of the person I was becoming: a woman who lied to everyone, who disrespected her parents, who helped her sister injure herself. A woman who would spy on a king.”
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Nor once dreamed of seeing the wondrous wealth and beauty of Ilara, the kingdom that’s ruled her village for as long as anyone can remember. But when a childhood accident left her with a permanent scar, it became clear that her identical twin sister, Zadie, would likely be chosen to marry the Crown Prince—while Nor remained behind, unable to ever set foot on land.
Then Zadie is gravely injured, and Nor is sent to Ilara in her place. To Nor’s dismay, her future husband, Prince Ceren, is as forbidding and cold as his home—a castle carved into a mountain and devoid of sunlight. And as she grows closer to Ceren’s brother, the charming Prince Talin, Nor uncovers startling truths about a failing royal bloodline, a murdered queen… and a plot to destroy the home she was once so eager to leave.
In order to save her people, Nor must learn to negotiate the treacherous protocols of a court where lies reign and obsession rules. But discovering her own formidable strength may be the one move that costs her everything: the crown, Varenia and Zadie.
Rating: 4/5 stars
I grabbed Crown of Coral and Pearl for the sake of the cover when I made my weekly visit to the library. I went in with zero expectations, although I found out that one of my good friends/coworkers was currently reading the book and was quite enjoying it.
I have to say that Crown of Coral and Pearl wins underrated book of the year for me. I’m surprised this wasn’t talked about more because, while it’s nothing new (it’s somewhat predictable, a little cheesy, and guilty of insta-love), it’s an enjoyable book with strong characters, themes, and some pretty solid plot twists. Nor drives the plot forward with her love for her sister, people, and desire to do what is right. Rutherford did not need to rely on flowery prose that I feel many YA authors do. The writing tells you what you need to know, without making you feel weighed down with, dare I say, pointless details that, again, weigh so many books down. She had a clear voice for each of her characters, and her writing was simple, yet effective.
The story takes on a familiar fairy-tale feel, but it stands as its own. While the insta-love was a bit much, the real focus was on the love between Nor and Zadie. I don’t think we see the importance of siblings in books as much as we should. Although the girls had always had certain beliefs drilled into their heads – specifically beauty and marrying the Ilearan prince, they held their own set of beliefs and did their best to put each other first.
I also liked that Rutherford took the time to explore platonic relationships, such as Nor’s friendship with Sami. Her love for Sami was one of a lifelong friendship. They were never meant for each other and had no desire to be with each other, but their love was fierce and admirable.
Initially, I was concerned that beauty and being beautiful was going to eat up the entire premise of the book, but Rutherford did a great job of exploring beauty and the different things it can mean when applied to a person. She also exposes just how ugly beauty standards can be, and how it can be harmful, especially to young women.
If you’re looking for a book that flew under the YA radar this year, showcases a strong female lead who also can be soft and sensitive, explores the bonds of sisters, and is engaging and hard to put down, then Crown of Coral and Pearls might just be the book you’re looking for.