A reluctant princess must decide between a life of anonymity and facing dangerous foes.
Despised by her mother and abusive brother, Princess Alyrra of Adania has little choice but to accept a proposal to marry Prince Kestrin, son of the ruler of the powerful kingdom of Menaiya, despite concerning rumors of violence and curses. On the journey to her betrothed, she is ambushed by her resentful handmaiden, who uses magic to assume Alyrra’s identity in a plot to entrap the prince. Alyrra has never wanted the life of a noble and seizes the opportunity to forge a new life as a commoner. However, interactions with Kestrin and learning about issues affecting the Menaiyan people, particularly women and children, leave Alyrra grappling with guilt over shirking her duties rather than effecting real change. When violence strikes those close to her, Alyrra must strive to correct her wrongs before it is too late. Debut author Khanani’s immersive and captivating retelling of “The Goose Girl,” originally self-published in 2012, depicts a protagonist who operates from her experience of trauma and aches for justice. Some plot inconsistencies and character motivations are questionable and detract from an otherwise well-woven tale. People of Adania have light coloring while Menaiyans have dark hair and brown skin; there are subtle allusions to Arabic-derived terminology.
Despite some shortcomings, an appealing retelling that draws in fans of fantasy and slow-burn romance. (Fantasy. 14-18)