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The False Princess

The False Princess

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The False Princess

4/5 (37 Bewertungen)
326 Seiten
5 Stunden
Jan 1, 2011


Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia has led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when she learns, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city, her best friend, Kiernan, and the only life she's ever known.

Sent to live with her only surviving relative—a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece—Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks. Then she discovers that magic runs through her veins—long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control—and she realizes that she will never learn to be just a simple village girl. Sinda returns to the city to seek answers. Instead, she rediscovers the boy who refused to forsake her, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor's history forever.

An intricately plotted and completely satisfying adventure, The False Princess is both an engaging tale in the tradition of great fantasy novels and a story never before told that will enchant—and surprise—its readers.

Jan 1, 2011

Über den Autor

Eilis O’Neal is the managing editor of the literary magazine Nimrod International Journal. She started writing at the age of three (though the story was only four sentences long). Her first name is pronounced "A-lish." She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with her husband, Matt, and two dogs, Nemo and Zuul. The False Princess is her first novel. You can visit her online at

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The False Princess - Eilis O'Neal



The day they came to tell me, I was in one of the gardens with Kiernan, trying to decipher a three-hundred-year-old map of the palace grounds. We were sitting on a stone bench, the delicate roll of fabric lying between us. Instead of looking toward the gardens, however, we faced the gray wall that separated the northernmost edge of the palace grounds from the streets of Vivaskari.

It can’t be there, he was saying. Look, Nalia.

I glanced up from the map to follow Kiernan’s finger, which pointed at the expanse of wall in front of us. Once he had my attention, he jumped up from his seat on the bench and strode toward the wall. He rapped his fist against it, then winced comically. I rolled my eyes. See? he said. There’s nothing here. Are you sure, oh princess wise and stubborn, that you’re reading it properly?

I sighed in frustration. He was right. We had examined this section of wall for over an hour, searching for any cracks or indentions that might indicate a secret door, all without success.

We’re where it says we should be. At least, where the part that I can read says we should be. I tugged a hand through my hair, pulling a few of the dark brown strands loose so that they trailed against my neck. It’s those markings along the bottom. I’ve looked and I’ve looked, but I can’t find anything that even comes close to them. They aren’t any modern language I know, or even any ancient one. Which was irritating, since I knew four modern languages well, bits and pieces of six others, and enough of five ancient tongues to at least recognize them. But these … runes—I could think of no better word to describe the scratchy markings—were completely baffling. Not that I had asked anyone else about them, not even the librarians who should have been the map’s keepers. It was a mystery, one Kiernan and I had discovered, and we were determined to figure out the answer by ourselves.

They could say anything, I continued. They could say, ‘Do the opposite of everything you’ve just read.’ After all, the location of the King Kelman’s Door is supposed to be secret.

We had been trying to find King Kelman’s Door since the snowstorm last winter that had trapped the entire city indoors for days. Though I would have enjoyed sitting in front of a fire in one of the palace halls with a good book, Kiernan chafed at being kept inside. And since I was his best friend, finding ways to help him expend his boundless energy had generally fallen onto me.

So we had spent most of the four snowbound days exploring the palace, which, being more than six hundred years old, had enough interesting places to keep us busy for forty days. Kiernan liked the armory best, where he could examine the weapons of deceased kings and queens, and where we found a tiny hidden recess in the wall behind the shield of my great-great-grandfather. Inside the recess had lain a dagger, no longer than my hand from wrist to fingertip. It was quite plain and, since we couldn’t imagine that anyone had missed it during the past hundred years, Kiernan had kept it.

It was in the library, though, that we made our most exciting discovery. After two days of exploring, I had felt a strong, almost overwhelming need to read something, anything, and I had been determined to spend at least an hour in the palace library. Kiernan, though able enough when it came to books and learning, had little true patience for sitting and reading. Still, he had followed me, protesting all the while. When I told him that he didn’t have to come, he only shrugged and came after me anyway. That wasn’t strange, though. We were best friends; we did everything together. He dragged me into scrapes that I would never have considered getting into otherwise, pulled me from my shell of shyness and reserve, and for my part, I made sure that he read a book every once in a while.

I had wanted to look at a book on the history of Thorvaldian magic. The particular volume I wanted, which covered a span of some five hundred years but contained magical theories now considered out of date, was shelved in a tiny room in the very back of the library, tossed amid a collection of moldering scrolls and maps. Even though I lacked any magic myself—no member of the royal family had possessed magic for four hundred years—I had always been fascinated with it anyway. Not that I had as much time as I would have liked to devote to it; there were always more pressing things that a princess needed to study. But I read what I could, even when I didn’t understand some of it.

I was sitting at a low table placed beneath a window, trying to make out some of the more arcane phrases, when I heard a sudden crash and looked up in time to see a shower of dust waft out of the small room where I had found the book. I glanced around, sure that a librarian would come running to investigate, but none did. So I hurried into the room to see Kiernan standing ankle-deep in a pile of scrolls and books.

I was just looking, he protested before I could say anything. They fell on their own!

Scowling at him, I gestured to the pile. Help me clean this up before Torvoll gets here. Torvoll was the palace’s head librarian, and a man with very particular ideas about the treatment of books, even those no one had touched in years.

We worked quickly, eyes on the door, and had replaced all but three items when I paused. One of the scrolls had fallen open, the brittle string that had held it snapped in its crash to the floor, to reveal a drawing of the palace grounds. At first, I only glanced at the writing surrounding the image, but something in it snagged my eye, and when I looked more closely, I had to gulp to swallow my gasp.

Put those up, I ordered.

Kiernan, who was holding the last two books, shoved them onto the shelf. What is it?

I’ll tell you in a minute, I murmured. My legs felt shaky with the discovery, and I hoped that I’d be able to make it out of the library without falling down or tripping on anything. Just hurry. Then I tucked the map—drawn on a roll of fabric rather than paper—under my arm and darted out of the tiny room.

Aren’t you going to put that back? Kiernan asked as we passed the table where I had been reading, my book still lying on it, but he went silent when I glared at him. We paused behind a shelf near the entrance to let a librarian shuffle past, and then slipped from the room. Kiernan’s eyes never left me; unlike me, he hardly even had to concentrate at walking unobtrusively, what with all the tricks he pulled. Finally, when we were three corridors away, he said drolly, I’d heard that even princesses weren’t allowed to take books from the library without Torvoll’s permission.

"You’re really going to bother me about rule breaking?" I asked. My heart was beating fast, both with the excitement of the find and the daring of my actions. He was right, though; I had never instigated something like this. It was always Kiernan who dragged me into mischief. I was a good, quiet, and rule-following girl. The perfect princess, if not for my clumsiness and sometimes painful shyness.

Kiernan grinned, his eyes bright. So what is it?

I couldn’t help the matching grin that gripped my own face. I think it’s a map of King Kelman’s Door.

And so the search had begun. King Kelman, I had explained to Kiernan, had ruled during a tumultuous time in Thorvaldor’s history, an era when plots to overthrow his rule had abounded. So he had instructed his best wizard to create a magically hidden door in the palace’s outer walls so that he could escape if he was attacked. According to the cryptic writings of that wizard, however, peace had come soon after the door was completed and it had never been used. Still, Kelman remained a suspicious man, and he told few people about the door. After his death, its location had been forgotten.

Now that map, also forgotten for centuries in the stacks of unwanted library materials, was giving me a headache. I closed my eyes against the brightness of the sun. "It’s a really good secret, I grumbled. No wonder Kelman didn’t mind one of his wizards making a map of it, if he even knew about it. No one can read it, so what’s the harm?"

Maybe it’s a code. Or a magic language, Kiernan suggested as he plucked a newly greening blade of grass and twirled it between his fingers. He leaned nonchalantly against the trunk of the huge tree that shaded us, his dark blond hair falling across his face, the very picture of idle nobility.

Maybe, I conceded.

Kiernan puffed out his cheeks with a breath. "And you’re sure we’re in the right place? Because there’s just a city street on the other side of this wall. What’s the point of making a magical escape route if you’re still going to be inside the city once you go through it?"

Well, the city was smaller when Kelman was king. There used to be open forest on the other side of this wall. But there was this great expansion effort during the reign of—

I would have gone on, but I didn’t have time to explain it further, because the sound of feet crunching the tiny stones on one of the garden’s paths caught my attention.

Glancing over my shoulder, I saw Cornalus, the steward, coming across the garden toward us. Cornalus was an old man, his gray hair trimmed so that it brushed his shoulders in an old-fashioned style. He had been my grandmother’s steward as well as my father’s. He had always been very kind to me, and one of my earliest memories was of his sneaking me a sweet with a wink during a very dull ceremony.

Good morning, Your Highness, he said formally when he reached us.

I smiled at him. It was a small smile, my lips closed together, not because I didn’t like him, but because there were few people other than Kiernan who could elicit a full, toothy grin from me. Good morning, Cornalus. As I spoke, I casually slid the map until it was hidden behind me so that he wouldn’t see what it contained. It was our secret, after all, mine and Kiernan’s.

Your parents are requesting your presence in the Hall of Thorvaldor, he continued. They’ve asked that you come immediately.

I frowned, my eyes going to my lap. The sun was warm on my shoulders, I would remember later, the stone bench hard beneath me. A striped insect crawled across the grass, pausing in confusion when it found its path blocked by my left foot.

It was strange, I thought, that my parents should want to see me in the Hall of Thorvaldor before noon, and strange that they should send Cornalus to find me. My parents were usually so busy that I sometimes went several days without seeing them at all, and they rarely asked for me during the middle of the day. They reserved that time for the business of the ruling Thorvaldor, not for chatting with their only daughter.

As I raised my eyes, I realized that both Kiernan and Cornalus were watching me. So I smiled, a little tightly this time, and rose. A quick glance at Kiernan and he was beside the bench, casually rolling the map up. I don’t know how long they’ll want me, I said to him. But I’ll find you when we’re through.

Kiernan shrugged, grinning. Don’t worry about me, he said, then walked off, a whistled tune floating through the air behind him. He would have no trouble amusing himself during my absence, I knew, whether it took two hours or two days. With his ready smile and quick wit, the Earl of Rithia’s son was a palace favorite. No matter the amusement, he was eager to participate and prepared to laugh at himself if he failed, and even his many tricks and practical jokes didn’t hurt his reputation. Many of the palace residents, I knew, considered it his greatest feat that he was able to get me, the reclusive princess, to relax in his presence.

I followed Cornalus through the garden, making myself match his slow pace. Before us loomed the palace. The windows on the upper floors glinted in the morning sun. The seat of the Thorvaldian royal family hadn’t changed much over the centuries, adding a wing here or a tower there with reluctance. The lack of change had always simultaneously comforted and disturbed me. On one hand, it was nice to think that my ancestors had once slept in the very room I slept in; on the other, couldn’t one of them have figured out a way to keep my sitting room a bit warmer in the winter? Still, it was a grand building, one I rarely tired of, and my home.

Do we have time for me to stop in my rooms? I asked once we were inside. My hair probably looked like birds had nested in it, since it took only a few minutes of wind to mess it up and I’d been outdoors all morning.

Cornalus looked doubtful. They mentioned that they wanted you as soon as possible, Your Highness.

I bit the inside of my cheek, then nodded. All right. After a moment, I let myself fall a few steps behind Cornalus, then ran my hands through my hair when he wasn’t looking. Without a mirror, I had no way of knowing if I had made it better or worse; I could only hope that it was lying flat instead of standing out like a nimbus around my head.

Wait, please, I said softly when we reached the huge oaken doors that led to the Hall of Thorvaldor. Taking a deep breath, I smoothed my hands down the front of my dress, adjusted the belt made from silver links against my narrow hips, and patted my hair down one last time. The Hall of Thorvaldor was the hall of state, where coronations and public hearings and all sorts of official business took place. It was large enough to hold hundreds of people on the ground floor, and it had a balcony as well. If my parents wanted to see me there, it must be something important. Maybe some diplomat from Farvasee or Wenth had unexpectedly brought a son or daughter who needed entertaining, or maybe it had to do with the current feud between two noble houses over who owned the rights to several northern mines. More than ever, I wished I had been able to stop to make myself presentable.

I blew out the breath I had been holding. No matter. I couldn’t do anything about my appearance now, so I would just have to make sure I didn’t trip walking across the long, smooth floor that led to the two thrones at the end of the hall. I nodded to the guards standing on either side of the great doors, and they reached forward at precisely the same time to reveal the hall.

The Hall of Thorvaldor was long, high-ceilinged, and lined with tall windows. Unlike the Great Hall, where feasts took place, or the Hall of Fires, where the palace residents might go to read or listen to the latest songs or poems, the Hall of Thorvaldor rarely felt warm. White columns set at intervals created a wide pathway that led across the marble floor to a dais, where two large thrones sat. Without waiting, I raised my chin and walked toward them. Behind me, I heard the doors shut with a thud, and then the slow steps of Cornalus following.

The prickles on my neck started as soon as the doors shut. At the end of the hall, my parents sat on their thrones, wearing their heavy crowns of state. Two other people stood at the base of the dais. There was no one else in the room.

I swallowed. Something was going on.

I recognized the others as I neared the dais. The older man was Neomar Ostralus, the head of the wizards’ college in Vivaskari and my father’s chief advisor in magical matters. He looked exactly as you would expect one of the most powerful wizards in the country to look, with his white-flecked beard; sharp, dark eyes; and haughty movements. Beside him, tall and straight-backed, her dark, lustrous hair swept up and pinned like a crown on her head, was Melaina Harandron. Melaina was considered to be Neomar’s most probable successor, both as the college’s head and as my father’s wizardly councillor. She was also a noblewoman, the Baroness of Saremarch, and very beautiful. Both wore black robes, the indicators of master wizards.

I had never had much contact with either of them, though Melaina lived in the palace some of the year and Neomar visited it almost every day. Neomar stayed busy as the college’s head and my father’s advisor, which made him brisk in his dealings with nearly everyone. I always felt that I was taking too much of his time when I talked to him, as if, even though I was the princess, I wasn’t quite important enough for him. And Melaina had a way of looking at me that made me think she could see into my head, a steady, unblinking gaze that unnerved me a bit. She was lovely, her graceful movements so deceptively languid, which made me feel all the more clumsy in her presence. Still, they were important people, and seeing them there made the prickles on my neck sharpen.

I nodded to both of them as I passed and, out of the corner of my eye, saw that Cornalus had gone to stand with them, but then directed all my attention to my parents. Your Highnesses, I said formally as I stopped a few feet from the dais. Then: Mother, Father.

Nalia, my mother said. She didn’t smile as she said it, though, and I thought I heard a catch somewhere in the back of her throat, though it was gone so quickly I couldn’t be sure. We have something to tell you.

She cast a glance at my father, a movement so sharp that it made me blink. My mother was light and a little winsome, not at all quick or hard. My father looked down, as if steeling himself for something, and when he looked up, he was wearing the face of the king, strong and steady, and cold.

You know, he said, that when every son or daughter of the royal house is born, the oracle at Isidros makes a prophecy about that baby.

I nodded slowly. Of course I knew—everyone knew. The oracle at Isidros was the conduit of foretelling from the Nameless God. People from across Thorvaldor and even beyond sought out the oracle for guidance; sometimes, if the God decreed it, they received an answer. But for a child of the royal family, the Nameless God always sent a prophecy before the baby’s birth. Sometimes they were specific, telling the manner of the child’s death or of a particular triumph of war, but usually they were very general so that the meaning was debated for years.

Can you tell us the prophecy given for you?

Again, I nodded; I knew the words by heart. Long and well shall she rule. War shall not touch her, nor famine, nor plague.

My father smiled, but it was a brittle smile, without even comfort in it. A fine prophecy, he said. But it was a false one.

What? My prophecy was false? Was this what they had called me to say?

I could hear the slightest of tremors in his voice now, but he continued without stopping. Before the birth, when the queen was still well enough to travel, we journeyed to the oracle, and she gave us the God’s prophecy. But it was not the prophecy you just recited. The true prophecy was one of blood.

My heart thumped in my chest, and I could barely hear my father over the rushing in my ears.

According to the oracle, there was a chance the princess could die, murdered, before her sixteenth birthday. It was not certain, but the chance was great enough that, when she sought the foretelling, all the oracle saw was blood, and the princess dead in this room.

But I am sixteen, I thought hazily, even though I couldn’t seem to speak. Is that what they want to tell me, that I’m safe now?

My father went on, gaining speed as he spoke. It had been a … difficult conception, and an even more difficult birth. The physicians had told us that it was unlikely that the queen would bear another child. The princess was the only heir. We had to keep her safe, no matter what the cost. We formed a plan.

I wanted to rub my head with my hand, but I managed to keep it at my side. Why did he keep saying that? The princess. As if I wasn’t there. And if I were safe now, why did he look so grim?

After the birth, we put our plan into action. Only a few people had seen the baby, and one infant looks so much like another.

He stopped short, his eyes fixed on mine. When he spoke again, he sounded tired, like a man at the end of a long journey. We hid the princess away so that she would be safe until after her sixteenth birthday. And we replaced her with another baby, a false princess. You.

I swayed. The Hall of Thorvaldor tilted, the light from the windows becoming hard and glittering, blinding me. I squinted against the sudden brightness, and as I did, the room seemed to change, its familiar shape shifting until I wasn’t sure I knew it anymore.

What? I gasped. My throat was too small, not enough air getting through it, and I couldn’t breathe. How? I don’t—I don’t—

The queen had hidden her face in her hands, and the king placed one hand on her shoulders. We couldn’t just send the princess away, because then whatever malice had been foreseen could just go looking for her. We had to make it seem that she was here, living in the palace. There was a spell, he explained, to make you appear to be the princess to any eyes, magical or otherwise. You had been picked because it seemed likely that you would resemble her as you grew. But the spell gave you her birthmark, and a glamour that would make any probing wizard think you were of royal blood. Our daughter. It was strong magic, wrought by the strongest wizards living then. But now it is time for it to be removed.

Neomar stepped forward, his hand upraised. He didn’t speak to me as he held his palm up over my forehead, his intense, black eyes fixed on my face.

Stop, I wanted to say, but Neomar was already muttering something under his breath. A spell, I realized, and a difficult one, for sweat had beaded on his wrinkled forehead.

A golden haze blossomed around me, making it hard to see. I tried to say no, but the word wouldn’t come. The golden haze brightened suddenly, and something inside me, something I hadn’t even known was there, fell away, like a cloak slipping onto the floor. Then the golden haze faded, and Neomar stepped back, his hands pressed against his chest.

Trembling, I held out my left arm, turning it so that my palm faced upward.

I had had the birthmark for as long as I could remember. Three small reddish dots shaped almost like a triangle on my inner arm, just below the bend of my elbow. As I watched, the marks faded, slowly dwindling until nothing but unblemished skin remained.

It’s a trick, I said, but faintly.

Yes, it was, said the king. But a trick to fool the world. And so it had to fool you, too. His face softened for a moment, and I had the urge to run to him, as I had as a child. But then it closed, became the king’s face, and not my father’s.

Who knew? I asked dully.

As few people as possible. He gestured to the two wizards. Neomar was still breathing heavily, Melaina holding his arm with concern, but he looked up at the king’s words. We went to Neomar, but it was Melaina’s plan. She was a talent even then. They and Flavian, the college’s head librarian and a great wizard in his own right, created the spell and cast it. One of them renewed the spell every few years when it grew weaker, and then removed your memory of the renewal. Since Flavian died seven years ago, Neomar and Melaina are the only ones who knew, until now. Even Cornalus has found out just today.

And the— I broke off, unable to finish the sentence, to utter the name that I had thought was mine.

The king seemed to know what I had been going say. Nalia has been raised in a convent some distance from here—Melaina took her there a few days after her birth. She has believed that she is an orphan, but one with a noble patron. None of the sisters at the convent know any differently. She has been given a noble’s education, taught as well as a princess should be. She was told that one day she would come to court, as her patron wanted. It was safer for her not to know.

Have you seen her? Do you visit her?

The king closed his eyes. No. Melaina and Neomar, they have seen her a few times. Every few years, one of them had to go to the convent, disguised by magic, to renew the spell on her and then erase her memory. But we have not seen our daughter since her birth.

Our daughter, I thought. And then: He called her Nalia.

I felt tired, more tired than I had ever been in my life, so it was hard to hold my head up and even harder to ask my next question. Who am I? If I’m not her, then who am I?

Melaina found you. She scryed for a day, searching for the right baby. Your father was a weaver in the city. We summoned him, told him our plan. He gave you to us willingly, and then Neomar altered his memory, making it seem to him that his baby had died. At my exhalation of shock, he said, a little defensively, It was safer. The fewer people who knew …

And my mother? The question was small and quiet. Did she give me up as well?

The king shook his head. He did not mention his wife.

I clenched my gown’s skirts in my hands. It was too much, too much to comprehend. Is he still alive?

Again, that flash of sadness across the king’s face. No. He died some years ago, in his sister’s house in Treb.

The light from the windows pressed against me, as bright and sharp as diamonds. I am alone, I thought as I gazed around the hall. All of this, all my life, it was a dream. And it is ending.

What is my name? I asked.

For the first time, the queen stirred, raising her head to looked at me. Sinda, she said, her voice thin. He said your name was Sinda.

Sinda, I whispered. I waited for the word to have some meaning, to fill the empty place left when the golden haze had receded.

But the name just faded away, filling nothing,

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  • (4/5)
    I could not resist picking this one up after reading the synopsis. How much would it suck to go from being the pampered princess for 16 years to being sent off to live with a relative you never met before in a tiny town full of strangers. To top it off you find out you were put in place of the princess as a decoy because someone was supposed to try and kill the princess before she turned 16. Just ask Nalia, or as she finds out her real name is Sinda. She finds she has few skills that help her fit into a life with her aunt and she finds herself missing her best friend Kiernan even more than her life as a princess.You cannot help but feel sorry for Sinda when she finds out who she really is and that her "parents", the king and queen, so easily send her off and bring their real daughter home once the threat of murder is past. We follow Sinda's journey as she tries to master this magic that was long suppressed while she was living the life of the princess, she realizes what life is like for those outside of royal courts and she realizes that there is more going on than anyone realizes. There are times that despite what she's gone through I did find myself disliking her quite a bit because of the choices she chooses to make and yet I cannot totally blame her after all she's been through. What was great about this book was Sinda is forced to deal with the consequences of the choices she makes instead of everything magically turning up roses.You can see the romance coming between Sinda and Kiernan but it was nicely done and the romance does not over power the rest of the story. They work together to try and solve the mystery over who is trying to topple the queen, king and princess Nalia before it is too late. The villain was not too much of a mystery but there are a few twists that I did not see coming.
  • (4/5)
    The False Princess is filled with murder, mystery, and magic. It was simply not what i was expecting. The story follows the false princess, Sinda, who finds out her whole life is a lie. She was just a target so that the real princess wouldn't be killed before her 16 birthday, as an oracle foretold. The ungrateful royals, send her to her true aunt. Sinda tries to come to terms, but has no skills for the outside world, or so she thinks. Magic runs through her viens and she discovers a plot for the throne, 16 years in the making.
  • (3/5)
    I’m so glad I read this book. It got me back into reading the Fantasy genre which was certainly lacking. What can I say, but that I really enjoyed reading this book. The fantasy isn’t heavy handed, it’s light, and the magic system is simple and easy to understand. The background history and information of the setting is mentioned throughout the book so the reader isn’t left confused but with a general understand on the layout of the land.I was upset when Sinda learns of her origins and is sent away. What in the world was that about??? it’s like they just casted her out like an overused toy. That got to me! and what’s even worse is Sinda just walks along with it. I realize she’s really powerless to do anything, but she could have at least put up a fight. The main issue I had with her as a character was her tendency to hesitate, at the wrong times. She was just wishy-washy at times and it got frustrating. Keep in mind, I did like her though, it was just this part of her character that just did not go well with me. Throughout the book she did develop into a stronger person and I enjoyed reading her relationship with Philantha. Philantha is an interesting teacher, although the way she teaches is different than what you might expect from other magic users. I certainly took a liking to her the moment she decided to take Sinda under her wing, Philantha wasn’t afraid of what others thought of her. That was admirable, but in a sense I think that gave Sinda a bit of a backbone to grow. I fell in love with Kiernan. I absolutely loved him as a character. Some characters you just fall for. This is one of them. Not only was he such a great friend, but even after arguing horribly with Sinda, he still managed to forgive her. I fell for him when he came to find her. That just hit me and I thought to myself this guy has just become awesome in an instant. Kiernan and Sinda did make such great friends, of course naturally as the story progresses, you can feel the chemistry between the two of them grow and although obvious of the outcome, it’s still nice to see the two of them together. The plot of the book was good although the mystery and intrigue did not happen until you read further into the story. It wasn’t bad as you’re literally set up with a good slap in the face in the first chapter. The pace of the book was steady although you do experience a bit of a lull when Sinda is with her Aunt. Yet it’s a welcome lull to what’s in store for the reader throughout the later half of the novel. The ending was also really good yet I can’t help but wonder if there is going to be a sequel with this one. If there is, I would not hesitate to pick it up. I would love to read more about Sinda, and about Kiernan of course! This book was a decent read with a simple and easy to understand magic system, a nice well written fantasy world with characters that aren’t overly complex but not the most simple either. Perfect for YA readers who want a decent story, with subtle fantasy that isn’t over done.
  • (5/5)
    The False Princess is certainly a welcome addition to those of us who loved Ella Enchanted and stories reminiscent of fairy tales. Sinda narrates with an ease that I had no trouble with following, despite her talent of tripping over her feet and causing the fountain water to boil.After finishing Troubled Waters with a more-than-resilient heroine, it is interesting to note that while Sinda could hardly make a sustainable stew or run a household smoothly, she still was made of stubborn stuff - and once she found her new niche in the world, she probably would do well enough. After living a pampered life as a false princess, who could expect anything more without giving her a little more time?The False Princess was an unexpected delight with tangles that I found myself happily caught up in! Just when I thought things were settling down for Sinda, the story twisted once more and sent me racing for the next page. The ending left me breathless in a good way, though sad that it had to end at all. I certainly hope Ms. O'Neal has more in store for us in Thorvaldor!
  • (4/5)
    Here's proof that you're never too old for your mama to buy you a book! Author Eilis O'Neal lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where I grew up, and my parents went to a book signing event there in January. Mom sent me the signed copy, and oh, what a wonderful, unconventional fairy tale this is. Quiet and studious Princess Nalia is heir to the throne of Thorvaldor. She's lived her entire life in the royal castle, with the finest of everything and an adventurous prankster of a best friend in earl-to-be Kieran. Just after she turns 16, her life is upended: she's finally told that since she was a few days old, she has been a stand-in for the true princess, for whom a prophecy stated she would die violently before her 16th birthday. Now that they are safely past that date, there is no need for the false princess since the real one can return, and Nalia becomes Sinda: orphaned and dumped on the doorstep of her one relative: a poor, workaholic aunt who has little use for her niece. Sinda discovers from her that her long-lost mother had magical abilities, and that she does too... though they are difficult for her to control and they scare her. She returns to the capital city to search for answers, gets a scribe's job as well as training by an oddball master wizard, and reconnects with Keiran. Something's up with the new Princess Nalia, though... and the twists and turns in the second half of this story are quite the wild ride! Excellent character-driven action and a fully imagined fairytale world setting. Gail Carson Levine has a potential heir to the YA fairy tale genre here. This is an amazing first novel, and I'm looking forward to seeing what else Eilis O'Neal writes. 7th grade and up.
  • (3/5)
    I really liked it - I thought the first few chapters were great and then it dragged a bit in the middle. A little editing would have helped. (The main character worried a bit to much and the thoughts could have been condensed). Nonetheless a fun, clean read.
  • (4/5)
    Nalia, is the Princess of Thorvaldor--and as the Princess she has a privileged life, She's been tutored her whole life in history, languages, and everything else it takes to be a princess; she's fed gourmet foods every day, given beautiful dresses, lives in a castle, and everything else that one would expect comes with being a Princess and heir to the throne.

    But, just after her sixteenth birthday, while romping around the palace one morning with her best friend Kieran, Nalia is called to meet with her parents--something strange in and of itself. They inform her that she is not the real Princess. She is a false princess, brought as a baby to stand in for the real Princess who was sent away for her protection.

    Now that it is safe for the real Princess to return, Nalia--or Sinda, her real name, is sent away to live with her biological ant a dyer in a far away village. Sinda is never able to quite able to fit in with the people of the village--nor is she able to learn the tasks required of a dyer.

    And soon she's discovering she posses magic, something a part of that world, but not the royal family 'Nalia' believed herself a member.

    With magic sizzling inside her, an aunt who doesn't like her, a best friend she was forced to leave behind, a village where she doesn't belong, and a life that was a lie, Sinda will have to decide what to do next. Little does she know her choice could change the Thorvaldorian history, forever.

    The False Princess is such a great book. At first some of the names of places and characters threw me a little, but once I got used to them, I kind of like it. One of the things that worked well for me, was that except for really one part, it was harder to tell just when this book was set (date-wise). It was as if it was in a nameless time and place so I wasn't trying to connect it with actual dates and places while reading.

    Sinda was a very easy character to relate to and I loved seeing how she changed and developed throughout the story. She was a great main character and really led the story very well.

    I was a little weary at first about the way magic was going to be used but it was just a part of the story, it fit in seamlessly. If you like magic in your books at all, you should really try this one--and if you don't you should still read this!

    The plot of The False Princess had more twists than I went into it expecting it to be and I'm really glad that it did. It was a great mystery but there was still the romance and the intrigue and some action as well.

    I think if you liked reading Avi's Cripsin books, you'll like reading this book. This one is a tad more grown up, but I still think it's in the same vein as those books.

    Overall, I think you will like The False Princess if you like books with magic, if you like fantasy historical, if you like fantasy romance (it's not quite paranormal romance), or just a good book).


    thank you very muchly to the publisher for a copy of this for review
  • (3/5)
    Plucky Princess* I read this ARC via Star Book Tours.* Their are some mild spoilers in the review and well the title of the book itself is a major spoilerThis book gets 3 gnomes and a gnome hat out of 5 gnomes because it started off rather slowly. As the book goes along though I found myself liking the main character a lot more than I did at the beginning of the book.You think the book is going to just be a light treasure hunt type of book but the main character soon receives quite the surprise. Nalia is not really Nalia at all, her real name is Sinda. She was raised in the palace as a false princess because of an ominous prophecy about the real princess being murdered.The story starts to pick up steam when she's stuck living with her aunt in the very tiny town of Treb. She finds out that she may know a lot about being a princess but when it comes to her aunt's job of dyeing, she's no good. At first Sinda's not very likable because she just kind of gives up when she's stuck in Treb.There are two love interests in the book but it's pretty easy to see who she'll end up with. There is some tension thrown in but once it resolves the reader will most likely have no doubts though Sinda herself is slow to come to this realization.I really loved the story when magic was brought into the picture. It's seems that Sinda's life is even more complicated because the magic she possesses happens at unexpected time. She finds a teacher in Philantha who many consider to be rather odd.Sinda slowly becomes more comfortable with who she is but then in another twist finds that there are many more mysteries to solve. Intrigue abounds and only Sinda may be able to stop someone intent on taking over her country.The mystery and who the bad guy really is will leave the reader wondering how the ending will be happily ever after. Overall a pretty great adventure that takes some interesting twists and turns.
  • (4/5)
    This young adult novel generated a lot of buzz and it's easy to see why. The story is a familiar one: a young woman who, at 16, learns that she is not the princess she was raised as but a changeling brought in to subvert a prophecy. Sinda is thrust into a new life as a peasant, but she soon finds that even though she isn't a princess, she is still special. She has to try to learn where she fits in, which is not an easy task. It's rare for me to recommend this, but I think this is a book that could have a great sequel. That said, the book stands wonderfully on its own and should appeal to adults of all ages.
  • (4/5)
    Intrigue. Family vendettas. Babies switched at birth. A soap-opera type tale with a magical twist.
  • (4/5)
    Princess Nalia, heir to the throne of Thorvaldor learns just after her 16th birthday that she's a false princess, a stand-in for the true princess who was hidden away after birth to avoid the consequences of a prophesy. The real princess returns once the threat has passed, and Nalia, now Sinda, is sent away to live with an aunt who she never knew and a life of labor for which she is ill prepared. Sinda discovers she has previously undiscovered magical powers and returns to Thorvaldor to find someone to teach her how to use them. She discovers that the new princess isn't the true princess, and together with her friend, Duke's son Kiernan, struggles to restore the true princess to the throne.A great read, The False Princess includes so many of my favorite elements - strong heroine with helpful friends, intrigue, challenge, magic, kings, queens, castles with mysteries, and a love interest. Sinda is dealt an ego-shattering and emotional blow when she's basically turned out of her life, losing the only family, friends and life she never knew. It takes a while, but she rises above this loss and finds the strength within herself to right a terrible wrong despite the fact that she might lose everything. It reads as a single novel, but I was left hoping for more from Sinda, Kiernan and friends.
  • (3/5)
    Just after she turns 16, Sinda learns that she was only a stand-in for the real princess. Returned to her aunt's village, she finds herself trying to adjust to a totally different life, until she discovers that she has the ability to perform magic. Sinda returns to the city hoping to find a teacher, and discovers a secret that could change the course of her homeland's history.
  • (5/5)
    Imagine being a Princess for 16 years and then having everything ripped from you, by your parents? The King and Queen receive a prophecy about their only child. She will die a violent death before her 16th birthday. They exchange her with another child, raise this child and call her their own for 16 years. When her 16th birthday passes, they literally call back their 'real' princess and throw her away. Makes you wonder what kind of person could do such a thing. I must admit I had no love for the king and queen. Nalia/Sinda, however, just stole my heart.This book has a lot of twists and turns. It will keep you entertained. For a while, you won't easily recognize who is good and who is evil. There are wizards, magic and of course, a dashing earl's son.Loved this story and hope for more!
  • (5/5)
    Great book! I loved the characters & the flow of the story.
  • (4/5)
    The False Princess is a very solid, well-done book in the princess/magic genre. I can't say that it's the most inventive or ground-breaking YA fantasy, but if you have a soft spot for princess fantasy, it's worth a try.I appreciated that the heroine is allowed to make both good and bad decisions, and that ultimately she needs the help of her friends to save the day, even if she's the leader. It's nice when everything is balanced like that, instead of the hero doing all the saving, or the heroine too perfectly doing everything herself, unrealistically.The setting is a fairly generic pseudo-Medieval fantasyland, both in history/politics and geography. The magic elements are also standard, without anything much that makes them stand out amongst all the books I've read. On the one hand, this is a bit boring in light of the more creative or detailed books, but on the other, a more-or-less generic backdrop can't make the plot or characterisations seem more interesting than they really are, and O'Neal does just fine with both of those.Because the False Princess is unashamedly part of the princess/fantasy genre, many of the plot points were transparent to me, and I had most of the story figured out by the time O'Neal finished setting it all up - except for one part that snuck up on me halfway through. Nonetheless, I found it to be thoroughly enjoyable and a very good representative of its kind - much better than others I have read recently, though those others might be more imaginative in setting or characters. It can't be said that a standard, like this one, can't be good or worthwhile - especially if you're a fan of the genre, like me.
  • (5/5)
    Princess Nalia had it all...until the day she discovered she wasn't really a princess, but a commoner named Sinda. She had spent the first sixteen years of her life as a decoy princess because there was a prophecy that the true heir to the throne might die before her sixteenth birthday. Feeling betrayed, Sinda heads for the country to live with the aunt she never knew she had, leaving behind the family and only home she'd ever known. Once in the countryside, however, Sinda discovers that she has the gift of magic. If she doesn't learn to control it, the dangerous power coursing through her veins could kill her. Knowing this, she returns to the palace city and begins to study magic. She reunites with Keirnan, the mischievous Earl of Rithia's son and her best friend. They soon uncover a dangerous plot that could destroy everything Sinda holds dear.The False Princess is so hard to talk about without divulging spoilers. The plot is so intricate and complex. There are times you think you have a grasp on the story and where it's headed, but O'Neal throws in a plot twist and you're no longer sure how the book will end. There's danger, mystery, and intrigue lurking on every page. While the novel gets off to a slow start, it isn't long before readers will find themselves immersed in Sinda's plight. While she starts off as a weak character, by the end, she's become a strong heroine who has come into herself. I love books with strong female role-models. It's one reason Tamora Pierce has always been one of my favorite YA authors. O'Neal's writing style reminds me of Shannon Hale. In fact, one of Hale's novels, The Goose Girl, is very much a tale similar to this one, except in reverse: It is the princess' lady-in-waiting who usurps the role of princess and fools everyone. This book has something for everyone. It falls into both the historical fiction and fantasy categories. On top of that, it reads like a fairytale, despite the fact that it's an original work. There's plenty of romantic tension between Sinda and Keirnan to keep a reader's interest, not to mention an overlying mystery woven throughout the novel. I really like this book's dust jacket, too. I love the shades of purple, from the deep, royal color making up the wallpaper/curtain/(whatever it is) in the background to the more-subtle hues used for the cover model's make-up. I also love the story being told on the cover: Consider the fact that you can't see the model's face, but you CAN see the face of the girl on her locket. In my mind, the locket contains a portrait of the "true" princess while Sinda has once again disappeared in her shadow. It's a cover you won't think twice about until you've read the book.Overall, I enjoyed The False Princess and thought it was a strong debut novel. My copy will sit proudly next to my other "fairytale-inspired" novels, including those by Hale.
  • (5/5)
    I LOVED this book!!!!! I could not put it down. I was so ready to see what would happen on every page I read. I read it all in one day. A princess was living her life like a princess, when she got told she was not the real princess. The real princess came home the the castle. Or so they thought. The "real" princess took the false princesses spot and every one thought she was the real princess. Later on the false princess realized the "real" princess was also a false princess. Them both (including a young boy who is in love with the first false princess) go out to find the real princess and save the kingdom from evil.
  • (4/5)
    Nalia has grown up in the palace, being trained in everything she will need to know as future ruler of Thorvaldor. Then, one day, she is called in to the throne room, where she is told that she is not the princess after all -- her father was a weaver, her real name is Sinda, and she was brought to the palace in place of the real princess because a prophecy indicated that there was some danger of assassination before her sixteenth birthday if the princess remained in the palace. Now that the danger is passed, Sinda is being sent to her only living relative, a dyer in a small town, with thanks for her service to the crown. Sinda is depressed, angry, and confused . . . until, with the help of a friend from her princess days, she discovers a plot against the royal family. What can she do about it in her reduced circumstances -- and will anybody believe her?This was an enjoyable read, and I would recommend it to fans of fantasy and fairy-tale retellings. While this isn't a fairy-tale retelling in its own right, it has a lot of similarities to many I've read.
  • (5/5)
    When Princess Nalia finds out that's she's only a mere peasant girl named Sinda, a puppet playing a role to kept the real princess safe, she is uprooted from the life she's always known and sent far away so that the rightful princess can gain her throne. But while Sinda's away, she uncovers a secret that could shake Thorvaldor into a million pieces... but who will believe her?In my opinion, The False Princess was a great book. Though it started out a bit slow, once I reached around the middle, I just couldn't put it down. I eventually ended up reading it in just two sittings - it was great. The fantasy world is highly believable. I would recommend this book to anyone - especially if you love fantasy, mystery, and romance. :)
  • (3/5)
    This is more of a 3.5 star but ultimately it stays at 3. I really liked the premise and how it turned the fairytale princess story on it's head. The main character is strong and vulnerable and I like how she's contrasted with other women in the story. The fantasy world borrows from a lot of different sources so it makes the world a little generic and flat to me. But overall a solid girl read that didn't make me want to hurl things.
  • (5/5)
    The False Princess has made it onto my teensy-tiny list of favorite books. When I started it, I wasn't sure what would happen. When I was nearly finished with it, I wasn't sure what would happen. Nothing was predictable at all. It's not one of those books with so many unpredictable turns, you just end up with a headache. No, this was perfectly planned and well-written, from start to finish. The False Princess is one debut you have to add to your list of books to read right away. The story begins with Nalia, Princess of Thorvaldor, being summoned to a hall to meet her parents - the king and queen. They rarely call her to that particular hall, so Nalia is confused and very uncertain of what awaits. She stands before the throne and listens in horror as her life is thrown away. Nalia - or Sinda Azaway - is not the princess. Small bits of her appearance was altered by magic to make her look like the real princess, who the king and queen have hidden away because of a prophecy that claimed she would be murdered in court. Cast away with nothing but the clothes on her back and a small sack of money, Sinda has to live with an aunt who doesn't even want her. She's angry, distraught, and unsure of what her life means anymore. As a princess, she knew what her life meant, now, there isn't any meaning. Soon, her anger means more than just anger. She has magic. Inside her, bubbling uncontrollably, wanting to spew out whenever she throws a fit. The magic can be useful to her in many ways, if only she knew how to use it. Fate takes Sinda back to the city (close to the palace), where she learns a terrifying secret. One only she and her best friend knows, one that could change the fate of Thorvaldor forever. The False Princess is full of suspense. The first fifty to sixty pages weren't as gripping as the rest of the book, but as you will see, it was worth it. I love the setting - the land of Thorvaldor, the characters - Sinda, her best friend Kiernan, and the others, and the length of the book - it was just right. It never dragged on and on, nor did it just end abruptly. If you're looking for a book that will send you off to a far away land and capture your heart, pick up The False Princess. Anyway, how can you not pick up a book with such a pretty cover? Another awesome perk for those of you participating in challenges - The False Princess qualifies for the Debut Author Challenge and the YA Historical Fiction Challenge!
  • (3/5)
    Just never found the protagonist that engaging. Her voice a little too stilted, the coincidences throughout the story a little too neat.
  • (5/5)
    This YA fantasy is a really enjoyable book. I don’t remember how I heard about it (probably Tez Miller, who is my biggest source for new authors), but I am so glad my library had it and I could pick it up and read it. I’ll probably be buying at least one copy of this book for a gift, that’s how much I liked it.

    I can’t go into too much detail about the plot without giving away spoilers, but I can discuss the basic beginning part. (It’s on the back cover to start with.) The main character starts the book thinking she is the princess and heir to the throne. Within the first few pages of the book, she finds out that she is NOT the princess, but instead a commoner who was taken from her family to be a stand-in for the princess. There was a prophecy which said the princess had a high chance of being murdered before her 16th birthday, and the real princess was hidden away for her own safety. Well. Now the princess (both real and fake) is over 16, and the fake-princess-commoner is sent off to live with an aunt she doesn’t know, and who thought she was dead.

    Now, I really enjoy fairy tale retellings, and at first glance this looked like it was a story similar to “Sleeping Beauty”, since the true princess was hidden to protect her from harm. However, while I could easily believe that it was inspired by the classic fairy tale, that’s where the similarity ends. Once our false princess arrives at her new home, the real fun begins.

    I believe this was a first novel for Ms. O’Neal, and I hope it’s not her last. I really enjoyed the read, and the writing style was good quality as well. In some respects (such as age of protagonist) this was a definite YA book, but it managed to cross over and be enjoyable for me (aka NOT a young adult) as well.
  • (2/5)
    Meh. This was just ok. It was a fairly predictable fairy tale about a girl raised as the princess who finds that, in fact, she is an ordinary girl. She was switched at birth to protect the real princess from assassination.

    There was nothing really wrong or bad about this book. It's an entertaining story that I'm sure many people will love. It just didn't do it for me. I think it was a little predictable, there were too many coincidences and the main character was wishy-washy.
  • (5/5)
    I had been wanting to read this book forever and was excited to finally get a chance to read it. This is Eilis O'Neal's debut book and she did a great job on it. This is a wonderful fantasy full of mystery, numerous plot twists, magic, and a touch of romance. Nalia has lead a sheltered and well-educated life as the Princess set to inherit the Throne of Thorvaldor. Nalia's world comes crashing down around her when on her sixteenth birthday she is told that she is not the princess, she is in fact a false princess raised in the real princess's place in order to save the real princess from a horrible prophecy. Nalia is told her name is actually Sinda and she is sent away from everything she has ever known and loved to live with an aunt in the country. Her best friend Kiernan tries to visit to console her, but Sinda is desolate. That is until she finds out that she has powerful magic and begins to unweave a number of mysteries surrounding the false princess and the magic that surrounds her.This is one of those very sweet princess type stories but kind of in reverse...the girl finds out she's not a princess instead of finding out she is one. I loved watching Sinda's journey from being a Princess to being a "no one" and then her struggle to figure out who she wanted to be. Sinda is smart girl and a gentle girl, but she has a little bit of fire in her and as she learns to kindle the fire and believe in herself she becomes a force to be reckoned with. Many of the side characters are fascinating too. Kiernan is a wonderful male lead; he has so many conflicting interests but is determined to remain a true friend to Sinda no matter what her situation. Kieran and Sinda have a romance based on a lifetime of support and love and it is a very sweet romance to read about.There is a lot of magic in this book as well and I enjoyed watching Sinda as she struggled to control her magic powers. The plot is paced very well and has plenty of twists and turns so you are constantly left trying to guess what will happen next and trying to put together the pieces of the mystery before Sinda does.This was on of those books that everytime I sat down I had a little trouble getting into it for the first few minutes, then once I got into the story I couldn't put it down. Overall I really enjoyed this story. It is full of wonderful characters, a sweet and subtle romance between the two main characters, magic, and a wonderful mystery. Fans of Brightly Woven, Tamora Pierce's Books, or Kristin Cashore's book should check this book out. I look forward to O'Neal's next book.
  • (5/5)
    I really enjoyed this story of deception, intrigue, and magic. Sinda is a very likeable character, as is her friend Kiernan. The narrator, Mandy Williams, did an excellent job. The book was well-written and the conclusion was satisfying. I look forward to more from Eilis O'Neal.
  • (4/5)
    SUMMARY- "The False Princess," is a book about three girls who are all part of a plan to save the princess gone wrong. Taking place back in medieval times, this story takes you back to kings and queens and knights and wizards. The main character of this story is a girl named Sinda, taken as a baby to play the role of a princess. The oracle has foreseen blood and death for the Princess when she turns sixteen, and so with the help of Wizards, Sinda is made to look as the Princess, so as to protect the real princess until she is sixteen. When Sinda is told that now because it has been sixteen years, she must be sent to live with her aunt in a village, after being raised as a princess and being told that she is Nalia, heir to the royal throne. Now as a peasant, Sinda tries to fit in, but makes only one friend, a boy who later betrays her. Sinda begins to feel an odd feeling in her stomach as if something has been growing inside her, and when she realizes her only friend has betrayed her, she burns a bush on accident, and realizes the feeling is magic, and she has it! Sinda leaves her aunt and goes to the city to try and find a way to train her magic so that it will not get of control. In the city, Sinda finds out a secret. Sinda is not the only false princess, The wizard Marian is of royal blood, but her ancestors did not get the crown, and holding a long time grudge, had cast a spell over only child Orien, and made her to look like the princess, and has the whole kingdom, including Orien, thinking she is the real deal.Sinda goes on a quest to find the real Nalia, and uses her magic to correct the spell, and restore peace to the thrown. REVIEW- I really like this story and I wish Eilis O'Neal should make a sequel. I really like the placement in the medieval times. I especially enjoyed this book because instead of showing the happy princess, or the peasant who discovers she is a princess and lives happily ever after, we see the story of the girl who discovers she is a peasant and has been used by the crown to die in place of the real princess. We are shown the story of a girl discovering who she is after spending her whole life as another person. I would suggest "The False Princess" for people interested Medieval times and mysteries. I think "the False Princess" would be good for people interested in magic, and for those looking for a good long read. "The False Princess" is truly a magical book!
  • (4/5)
    Nalia is 16 and a princess. Clumsy and somewhat scholarly, she is being raised to be queen someday. Although her parents are emotionally distant, she has had a good life. Then she learns that a prophecy when the princess was born led to an elaborate ruse; she is not the real princess, she is a weaver's daughter named Sinda. In an instant, her life is turned upside down. She is starting to put it back together and find a place she can be content, when she learns of a plot to put a usurper on the throne. There is no one she can trust but her childhood friend, Kiernan.Well-written, with an appealing heroine and some interesting twists.
  • (4/5)
    Nalia has grown up her whole life believing she's the princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor until she is told that she has been a sixteen year stand-in for the real princess who was under threat of a prophecy. Suddenly outcast, she finds herself trying to find her way in a world she is totally unprepared for while still getting used to her actual name, Sinda. Discovering that she has magic within her, Sinda returns to the city and discovers that the plot around the princess is more complex than anyone knows and she may be the only one able to reveal it to the kingdom.The False Princess is thoroughly enjoyable YA fantasy novel. Sinda is a sympathetic character and one in whom it is easy to become invested as she adjusts to her new status in life and then begins to investigate the plot around the princess. Her best friend, Kiernan, is also quite the charmer and while the developments in their relationship were never a surprise, it was an excellent addition to the novel. The main mystery plot is extremely engaging although not too complex. A fun read that will appeal to fans of the Kristin Cashore's Graceling series.
  • (4/5)
    A quick and entertaining story - a girl raised as a princess is told she is merely a decoy for the real princess, raised in hiding. Sent from the palace to live with a resentful aunt, she obviously has a struggle to determine her true identity. The sweet romance didn't overwhelm the story.