There are two sides to every story—unless there are three.
Unwilling to marry a foreign prince she’s never seen to secure a treaty between nations, Lia bolts from her father’s castle on the wedding day. She’s the king’s First Daughter, but she won’t tolerate an arranged life, no matter how old the tradition. She settles in a fishing village and works, mostly incognito, at an inn. Lia narrates in the first person, but so do two others: the jilted Prince, intrigued by and resentful at her flight, and the Assassin, sent from a third land to kill her. The boys converge on the inn and enter posing as friends, neither knowing the other’s identity, each using the ruse to his own ends. As the text shifts to labeling each boy’s chapters by name rather than noun, Pearson plants more red herrings than truthful hints about which boy is which; some readers may guess right, while others will have it wrong until the explicit reveal. Post-reveal, the novel shifts to classic fantasy fare: travels across rough terrain; death, danger, kidnapping; romanticized Romany-esque wanderers; epic love; a magical gift of “listening without ears [and] seeing without eyes.” A bold ending whets appetites for the next installment, in which, readers will hope, the assassin will become a less cryptic character.
Slightly uneven but rich and exciting throughout. (map) (Fantasy. 14-17)