Lovely writing, rich settings, detailed characters, great story! The first few hours were a little slow, but once things got going I didn’t want to s..Show More »top listening! This surprised me several times, which is a very good thing. I really want to gab about this book so it’s going to be hard to discuss without giving too much away!
This is a fantasy first and foremost, and like many fantasies it’s also a coming of age story. On her sixteenth birthday, Princess Elisa is married to the king of a neighboring kingdom, and she realizes she doesn’t really know why the marriage needed to take place and that no one thought to tell her (and we readers notice she didn’t think to ask!). She begins to take steps towards adulthood by asserting herself and making some of her own decisions. It’s not long before the plot takes a dramatic turn and Elisa takes great leaps along with it. That’s when things start to really get good! Magic, political power struggles, war, adventure… Expect plot turns and a good dose of girl power!
I loved that Elisa is full-figured and not shy about enjoying food. As the story moves along she learns more about balance, but her body image and self-confidence issues made her very easy to relate to. I also loved that none of the characters were perfect on close examination. You could tell the author really knew everything about her characters and her beautiful settings – everything's so well detailed!
The magic and sorcery elements in the storyline come from the story's religion. Princess Elisa was “chosen” to carry a magic gemstone in her naval soon after she was born (okay, the naval bit is a little funny), and through it she’s in very slight communication to higher powers and possibly magics. Praying and sacred texts show up a lot, but in a way that moves the story forward rather than slowing the pace. The author took some elements from Christianity to start this fantasy religion and then totally went her own way with it. If that doesn’t sound like your thing, then this probably isn’t the book for you! Also, to any die hard romance novel readers out there, this is NOT a “girl meets boy and of course he’s her fated true love and they live happily ever after” story. There are romantic elements, but Elisa is the main focus instead of her romantic life, if that makes sense. Her story isn’t over. So pass on this one if that will be a deal-breaker for you.
This is the first book in a series but you could read it as a stand-alone. No terrible cliffhangers loom at the end, this gets to a reasonable conclusion with room for more to come later. I’ll definitely be getting the next books! Jennifer Ikeda reads beautifully. Once and a while her pace seemed a little more measured than I’d prefer, but she’s wonderful with voices and accents, and I’ll always be glad to see her name listed as narrator.
Highly recommended for lovers of fantasies and coming of age stories about girls you can really root for!