Inspired by The Man in the Iron Mask, The Prince and the Pauper and the eerie magic of twins, a novel of royal intrigue.
The chapters alternate the voices of the two 16-year-old protagonists: the orphan Elara, kept like an ill-treated servant for the money paid for her keep; and Wilha, the Masked Princess, fated to wear a mask all the days of her life. Wilha doesn’t know why: Does the populace of Galandria fear that she is hideous? Cursed? Blessed? Wilha is reserved; Elara is bold and canny. When Wilha is betrothed to Stefan, the prince of Kyrenica, as a gesture of peace between the uneasy kingdoms, Elara is captured and brought to the palace. She is actually Wilha’s birth twin, needed as a pawn for the dangerous journey to Kyrenica. The girls circle warily around each other in this overwritten plot that includes hidden passages, secret letters, a lost book, a lot of political machinations and a tiny bit of romance. Nobles, peasants and objects pop up, do their thing, and fade away. The story ends with each girl poised for the sequel; they’ve found their strengths but left a lot unresolved plotwise.
As this first of two volumes ends just when things are getting interesting, it’s possible that readers who have made it to the end will stick it out for Book 2. (Fantasy. 11-14)