⇒Featuring royals, sisterhood and the ocean
Crown of Coral and Pearl absolutely swept me away into a lush world full with sweeping seas, dark palaces and headstrong heroines. This debut novel is the first of a duology, and I’m already excited for book two.
The worldbuilding in this novel really stood out for me. Especially in Varenia, Mara Rutherford builds a complex and atmospheric world with immense detail and beauty. The idea of this city whose inhabitants are forbidden from touching land was so interesting, and so was seeing their lifestyle in such a different and beautiful place. The descriptions were stunning and the imagery was vivid. This built a strong contrast to the place Nor travels. New Castle where sunlight is blocked by walls of stone and the air is stale- and Nor is prevented from leaving.
I adored our main character, Nor. She is so smart, sensible and determined that her beauty will neither define or hinder her. She proves that inner beauty is more important that outward beauty in the best way. Her character felt very genuine and real and I adored her!
The best relationship in Crown of Coral and Pearl was that between Nor (coral) and Zadie (pearl) these two twins had the best, most beautifully complex relationship that I loved. Sisterhood and the sacrifices that come with it was such a central theme in this book and that brought such a heartfelt and meaningful side to the story.
“Varenia, the ocean, even my parents—I could survive without them. But my sister was as essential to me as the sunlight, as the air. I would find a way back to her some day.”
I hated Nor and Zadie’s mother. She was, not to be rude, an absolute b**ch. She was cruel and verbally abusive to Nor and cared only about her looks, not her personality.
A massive drawback on the story for me was the insta-love. Talin and Nor’s relationship wasn’t at all developed or realistic and the only things Nor really thought of Talin before she fell for him was how handsome he was, taking away from the important theme of not judging by looks or beauty. I didn’t really like Talin at all, though I did appreciate a genuinely kind love interest for once
Ceren really seemed like he’d be a typically handsome but traumatised villain but I ended up really liking him as the antagonist anyway. His motives were very realistic and he felt like a well-developed character, which I liked.
Crown of Coral and Pearl was well paced, with the first half really developing the characters and world, and the latter half full of adventure, schemes and romance. However, the ending felt really rushed and a little impossible, which was a drawback, though it did feature some great twists and reveals that made me hyped for book two.
This book was definitely cliché in a lot of ways, as are most YA fantasies these days, but in most ways it didn’t actually take away from the story and the predictability was relatively enjoyable.
I thoroughly enjoyed Mara Rutherford’s debut and devoured it in two short days. It was a beautifully written, atmospheric book with themes I enjoyed. I would definitely reccommend Crown of Coral and Pearl to lovers of YA high fantasy with independent heroines and royal schemes.