Series: The Opal Mask #1
Author: Jenny Lundquist
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Date Published: October 22, 2013
This is a very sweet retelling of a classic story. It’s like The Prince and the Pauper, but with pretty, feisty princesses and fairytale trappings. It was a cute, little book. The writing was smooth and so easy to read. I would have been all over this book when I was little– I really had a thing for princesses and fairytale retellings. It’s definitely more suited for the younger part of the YA audience (maybe even more of a middle-grade book), but that didn’t stop my from having a lovely time with it.
The best part of the novel are the two protagonists, Elara and Wilha, and how well they complement each other. Elara is an orphan living with an evil stepmother and stepsister (sounds pretty familiar, right?). She is angry and spiteful toward her adoptive family that treat her like a servant. She is an extremely proud and headstrong girl, and is not afraid to lie and manipulate situations for her benefit. Wilha is the crown princess. She lives a life of luxury, but has been forced to hide her face behind a mask her entire life. Not even her own father will look upon her face and no one gives her the reason why. Because of this, she’s– obviously– deeply insecure and shy. She has to go to the neighboring kingdom to marry the prince, and it doesn’t go smoothly. The two girls’ paths cross and they are forced to interact, much to their chagrin. Since they have alternating POVs, one of the most amusing parts of the novel was how these girls saw each other.
The romance in this book is quite lovely. There is no love-at-first-sight or fighting over a prince, like you’ll see in most fairytale stories. I was happy to see a book were there was no tension between the girls about a boy. There is plenty of conflict, don’t get me wrong, but it’s about their relationship or about the plot, not about boys.
I do think that the development of Wilha and Elara’s arcs were a little uneven. Elara really comes into her own at the end of the book, and Wilha is only just beginning to do so. I know that there is another book in the series coming up (yay! So exciting). So, I’ll be interested to see if she gets more to do in the next novel. I still really liked Wilha, though. She is very meek and afraid to take action, but it makes sense for her character.
Cover Critique: This cover is simply GORGEOUS. The colors are lovely and the font is great. It really portrays the spirit of the novel well. The inside of the book also has some lovely design touches. The team at Running Press Kids did a wonderful job with this book.
Quick Version: Between Elara and Wilha you really get the best of fairytale protagonists. One is spunky and needs to learn tact and the other is shy and is trying to find her strength. These two girls are thrown into a world of deception and political intrigue, and as much as they don’t like it, they have to count on each other to make it out. The story is well-written and a great read. Highly recommended for any fan of retellings or fairytale-esque stories. Fantastic cover, too.
Score: 4/5 stars 🙂