YA Fantasy, 432 pages
Acquired and read: Through NetGalley for an unbiased (and very late) review; read within two hours
Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.I requested this e-galley via recommendation from Dani at Refracted Light, and got rejected TWICE. Well, apparently third time was the charm, and I managed to finish it within two hours after my self-imposed Ramadan bookfast.
Elisa is the chosen one.
But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.
Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.
And he’s not the only one who needs her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.
Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.
Most of the chosen do.
Honestly, though it surprised me in a few places, this book actually met up to my expectations. I was a bit impressed with how the author harnessed Spanish culture and old traditions to spin around her own new world, as well as the legends based on the Godstone and its particular powers (though I couldn't help but picture it as an extra-large belly ring).
The idea of a fat princess really appealed to me, but sometimes in the book I felt that it was overdone - ie. the whole "Oh, I shouldn't, but I will!" drama that occurs every time she decides to eat something, which is pretty much at the moments when you're dying to know what's going on in the other room. At least at the end, she is confident about herself and her abilities, which is definitely a plus in my book - but other than that, not much else occurs that really makes her the type of character I want to tie to my heartstrings and keep with me forever.
Definitely a good start to the entrance of slightly overweight heroines, though.
My main problem with the story (the reason why I'm not giving it the complete five stars) was the side romance that I felt was a little...adulterous? I understood that Elissa's husband didn't appreciate her, he had someone else on the side, etc. etc. so of course that excused her to break her marriage vows and go and fall in love with someone else.
And then, once I got warmed up to the new guy...well, I'm not going to spoil it for you.
The height of my enjoyment with this book was the plot, and the world-building. To be honest, I actually read it more like a writing class (confession: Holly Root is one of my dream agents, and every time I hear someone signed with her, I have to read through and hope some of that luck rubs off on me). Keeping the action going is definitely one of Ms. Carson's strengths.
To cut my rambling off, let's just sum it up as not being Ella Enchanted, but still with its own place in the book world. It might not be on my "Most Amazing Fantasy Ever!" shelf, but it is still a respectable title from the 2011 line-up, and I will certainly read the next book when it comes out.
Warnings: Infidelity. Mentions of what goes on between a man and his wife (but nothing explicit, just...hints for those who read between the lines). Thematic violence.
Final verdict: I think this would go on the maybe-so shelf. You might like it. You might not. I'm still in the middle.