Book Review: The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal
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.
I picked up The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal while browsing through the library. It had been on my to be read list for a little while but hadn’t generated a lot of excitement that I could see on the other blogs. I read the blurb and thought the story would be a pretty straight forward ‘finding your place in the world’ novel. There was a nice twist that made the novel a bit more exciting than I expected but otherwise the characters and situation in this book were pretty bland. The main character, Sinda, is too accepting of her fate and simply allows the people she thought were her parents to basically kick her out of her life and send her off to a relative she didn’t even know existed. While I can understand Sinda being in shock at that moment, she’s a bit too much like a doormat to inspire much reaction from the reader.
When Sinda arrives in her aunt’s small village, her situation is more amusing than pitying and the reveal of her magic is predictable. It’s only as she returns to the city that things start looking up, novel-wise. At first, I thought the rest of the plot would be Sinda’s ‘journey to self-acceptance’ that ends with her being best friends with the new princess and generally becoming the most awesome royal advisor ever to the new Nalia. But there is a twist, things start to happen, and Sinda grows a backbone and a personality. The romance is not overwhelming but not very interesting. Best friends since they were little, Sinda and Kiernan of course fall in love with each other. It’s clichéd. Thankfully, it’s not focused on until the point of nausea.
The False Princess is your pretty standard fantasy/ fairy tale novel. It’s got ties to Cinderella and The Prince and Pauper. Everything and everyone is a little bland. I greatly wanted to learn more about Sinda’s birthmother and also more about the queen, who apparently felt something for Sinda even if we’re shown that with only third party information. O’Neal missed a great chance for some angst that would have spiced things up. As it is, Sinda’s numb reaction to everything is a little boring after a while. The False Princess does get a little more interesting near the end, where there is actually action happening, but it’s a little too late to save the book. I liked The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal, the second twist was good, but the majority of the novel was just okay.