Do not be fooled by this book.
I mean — I love this cover, but what does it evoke to you? Looks like another teen romance love triangle, right?
Okay, well, partially wrong. Yes, there is a romance and there’s an ALMOST triangle of sorts — but not really. This isn’t a, “Do I want guy A or guy B?” kind of a romance. This is a, “I will acknowledge both of you are might attractive BUT I know which one I want while YES I will still be physically attracted to the other, but emotionally there’s no conflict here.”
ALSO…this is not a romance novel. I REPEAT: This. Is not. A romance. Novel.
THIS is high adventure fantasy. This is a girl coming of age in a society/system where she is just chattel to be married off. And she does it with a delightful balance of intelligence, charm, maturity, and kindness. She is a very kind character — and not to the degree that she lacks a back bone. Far from it: this protagonist stands up for herself and for those she loves/cares about. All of this she does with integrity and grit, even in the face of some seriously difficult and dangerous circumstances.
Basically: she’s an amazing protagonist.
As for the men? They are both fascinating characters. Well-developed with individual motives and desires and very, very distinct voices. THIS is the best part. In a book whose ‘gimmick’ — for lack of a better term — is built around the mystery of “Is he Prince or Assassin?” , easily distinguishable and unique character voices are part of the backbone that holds everything up and together.
And Ms. Pearson does this in spades. Not only that, but she slowly and quietly builds a beautiful, lyrical magic-mythos of this world that makes me more than eager for the next book in this series. This is a slower novel, but it’s more than well worth every minute spent reading it.