Fantasy Book Review | Crown of Coral and Pearl by Mara Rutherford
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I’m going to give Crown of Coral and Pearl the highest compliment I have to offer: Quite simply, I never wanted the story to end. I was immediately transported to a watery, simple world and met a character that grabbed my heart with her spunk, wit, and penchant for defiance when she felt a wrong needed righting. I was with her in mind and spirit as she learned the truth about Ilara, rode a horse for the first time, and found herself saving someone who was most likely going to kill her. I agonized with her as she made hard choices in her determination to protect the people of Varenia – her people. I rediscovered the magic that only love can bring to your life. And I was so sad when I realized that there were no more pages to read.
The setting is alive and vibrant, like a Monet landscape. Starting with page 1, the reader is whisked away to Varenia and later Ilara, an unknown world that soon becomes as familiar as the world outside your windows. The people of Varenia live in simple homes on the water. They are not allowed to even go on land, while the citizens of Ilara live primarily in a massive dark structure built in a mountain for safety. One is full of natural sunlight and fresh air, while the other is dank, dark, and cold. The settings represent the potential of the different cultures, and the reader quickly discovers that the oppression of the Varenians by the Ilareans has been progressing ever so slowly and insidiously, as darkness tries to snuff out the light.
The main characters/heroes – Nor, Sami, and Prince Talin – are made of toughness and love. They reflect goodness but still have flaws and weaknesses that let the reader know they are complex and multi-dimensional. I always admire female characters that cannot hold their tongue when confronted with injustice, and Nor does not disappoint. She is a character that does what is right even when it is not easy and could mean her own death.
The theme of women empowerment is a great message for today’s young adults. Ilara prospered when ruled by women, but when the world changed, and only boy children thrived, Ilara began to falter. The ruling men of Ilara are mostly greedy and in poor health, ruled by fear of their own actions coming back on them. Ilareans are holding out for the day that their country will be once again ruled by women.
I wish the story did not need to come to an end. I didn’t want to put the book down once I picked it up and was sad when I reached the last page.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.