Thursday, September 6, 2012

Book Review: The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal

Pages: 319
Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Fantasy
Pub. Date: January 25, 2011
Source: Won from Escape in a Book
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars 

Goodreads says, "Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia's led a privileged life at court.  But everything changes when it's revealed, 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 of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she's ever known. Sinda is sent to live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. She is a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, and Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks.  But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins - long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control - she realizes that she can never learn to be a simple village girl. Returning to Vivaskari for answers, Sinda finds her purpose as a wizard scribe, rediscovers the boy who saw her all along, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor's history, forever."

Nalia is heir to the throne and is living what seems to be a perfect life.  On her sixteenth birthday, she finds out that she really isn't a princess; in fact, there is another girl who is the real princess and heir to the throne.  This real princess is hidden away for safekeeping due to an ominous prediction about her life.  Nalia, now known as Sinda, must leave the only place she knows as home and go to her aunt in a small town, which is very different than life in the city.  She must not only leave immediately, but also leave her best friend, Kiernan, without even saying goodbye.  Once she gets to her aunt's house, she hopes to learn more about her biological parents, but she finds her aunt to be a cold woman who really wants nothing to do with her.  As Sinda adapts to life in the small town, she comes to realize that she possesses magical powers that have been hidden for a long time due to the spell casted on her when she lived as the "false princess."  She is starting to learn about her magical powers and it scares her as they are unpredictable and powerful.  Eventually, she leaves her aunt behind and heads back to the city to find answers about her powers.  Eilis O'Neal's The False Princess is an enjoyable read for fans of high fantasy and historical fiction.

O'Neal does a great job creating the world of Thorvaldor.  It has been so long since I read a high fantasy and I really enjoyed the world building and the fantasy elements.  It reminded me of something I read as a child by Llyod Alexander or Legacy by Cayla Kluver, which is high praise.  There's no doubt that fans of high fantasy will love all the magical details, which include spells, wizards, and much more. 

Sinda is an admirable character and she grows throughout the course of The False Princess. I loved her relationship with Kiernan and enjoyed their strong friendship, which blossoms into something more.  Sinda is the underdog and you can't help but cheer her on as she tries to uncover the truth surrounding her newly found magic. 

As the story processes, readers will find that there's more than meets the eye with the fact that Sinda is the "false" princess and will enjoy the mystery and conspiracy surrounding it. The False Princess is a book that I will gladly put on my classroom bookshelf and I think many teenage girls will enjoy Sinda's story and journey.  If you are looking for an entertaining fantasy with some historical fiction, a mystery, and sweet romance on the side, get your hands on a copy of The False Princess.


  1. I love fantasy books and this sounds like a great stand-alone! Yay! I have heard lots of this one, but it never fully got my attention. I should def. try this one. :) Great review.

  2. I love fantasy and it's great that this book is a stand-alone. This book has been on my wish list for a while now and I will put it higher on my list! I like the idea of having a "fake" princess. Great review!

  3. I love historical fiction, add in some mystery and fantasy and I feel like I have found the perfect book! It seems like a lot happens, and definitely would be an interesting stand alone book. Thanks for putting this on my radar :)

  4. I completely forgot about you winning this novel(or that you chose this one) :) It was nice to read that you found it enjoyable, just a shame that it couldn't be a five star read. I think I might want to check out "False Princess" one day.


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