A young seamstress and a royal nursemaid find themselves at the center of an epic power struggle in this stunning young-adult debut.
On the eve of Princess Sophia’s wedding, the Scandinavian city of Skyggehavn prepares to fete the occasion with a sumptuous display of riches: brocade and satin and jewels, feasts of sugar fruit and sweet spiced wine. Yet beneath the veneer of celebration, a shiver of darkness creeps through the palace halls. A mysterious illness plagues the royal family, threatening the lives of the throne’s heirs, and a courtier’s wolfish hunger for the king’s favors sets a devious plot in motion.
Here in the palace at Skyggehavn, things are seldom as they seem — and when a single errant prick of a needle sets off a series of events that will alter the course of history, the fates of seamstress Ava Bingen and mute nursemaid Midi Sorte become irrevocably intertwined with that of mad Queen Isabel. As they navigate a tangled web of palace intrigue, power-lust, and deception, Ava and Midi must carve out their own survival any way they can.
Beth says 3 Stars...
My feelings about this novel are complicated, much like the story itself. I just saw the cover on the library website and connected it with the Printz Honor win which decided me. I expected some sort of epic fantasy with intrigue, betrayal, and magic. There's definitely intrigue and betrayal, but the magic is only incorporated as medieval superstition. It took me several weeks to read the book; I just couldn't get into it for large chunks of time. The plot is fairly slow-moving and meanders despite the intensity of the subject matter. I'm not a particularly squeamish reader (I made it through American Psycho), but there's an undeniable gross factor about many parts of the book. Some of the descriptions of the medical practices of the day and the sexual situations get a bit graphic. The sex scenes are almost universally uncomfortable because they almost always represent some sort of power struggle in a relationship. The palace and its world are richly detailed, which is the main joy of the book. The world-building is incredible and what kept me reading.
There are so many characters that flit in and out of the story that it gets a bit hard to keep track of the minor players. The perspective frequently shifts between Ava, Midi, and a third person narrator that follows a variety of characters. I think this is one of the reasons I had a hard time getting into the book since I dislike the shifting narratives. The book excelled at creating complex and varied characters. All of them had different motivations and unique stories that wove in and out of one another. I found none of the characters particularly likable because they all had to do unpleasant things to survive. The closest I came to liking someone was with Grammaticus, the historian, but he still uses people to gain power and influence. The maneuvering and power struggles were so intricate and definitely my favorite part of the book.
This isn't a book for everyone. It's slow, dark, and constantly rotates narrators and narration styles. It's rich and at times rewarding, but perhaps not ideal for the average reader.
ebook from library
We are more than happy to review YA novels, however we prefer either physical copies or e-books via Netgalley or Edelweiss. If you would like us to review a book please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Here is our rating system: One Star - Use as doorstop Two Stars - Bearable while on pain medication Three Stars - Read once, do not repeat Four Stars - Definitely keep it on your shelf Five Stars - Use as altar
So we've decided to join the challenge! This is just a preliminary list, and is definitely subject to change (we'll be doing a lot of adding as books begin to be released in order to get to the 12 we need!). Also, this is no order whatsoever. (if the book is in a color, it means one of us has read it!)
1. The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal
2. Human.4 by Mike Lancaster
3. Like Madarin by Kirsten Hubbard
4. The Emerald Atlas by John Stevens
5. A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford
6. Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
7. Hourglass by Myra McEntire
8. Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt and Other Things I Learned in Southern Belle Hell by Crickett Rumley
9. Wither by Lauren DeStefano
10. Entwined by Heather Dixon
11. The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney
12. Possession by Elana Johnson
Fantasy Reading Challenge
1. Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl 2. The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal 3. Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin 4. Sapphique by Catherine Fisher 5. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins 6. Glimmerglass by Jenna Black 7. Tortall and Other Lands by Tamora Pierce 8. Entice by Carrie Jones 9. Hourglass by Myra McEntire 10. Wither by Lauren DeStefano 11. Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr 12. Shadowspell by Jenna Black 13. Matched by Ally Condie 14. City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Claire 15. Entwined by Heather Dixon 16. The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney 17. Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst 18. The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan 19. Possession by Elana Johnson 20. A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford 21. So Silver Bright by Lisa Manchev
Welcome to "in BetweeN the pages." This is a little project that we've started and we hope that it will allow us to engage in some lovely book talk. Here's a little about us-
Beth~ I have a feeling that I may have a problem. I adore books. I read whenever I can, and most of the time feel that reading a good book would be a much better use of my time than working on anything else. I'm a recent college graduate with a degree in chemistry and love science! I'm currently living in Finland while doing some research as a Fulbright before embarking on my PhD. Hopefully you will enjoy what I say... but I tend to ramble.
Nathan~ For me, reading is the ultimate escape. A good book is so much better than any therapist can ever be. I am, what many might call, a book addict. It may be wrong, but it feels so right to blow off my homework and sit curled up with a novel. It's the ultimate relaxation. Books have gotten me through school and all the drama that accompanies it. I hope that my humble opinions can help you as you continue your literary adventure.