For a hundred years, the once-prosperous kingdom of Perin Faye has suffered under the rule of the greedy and power-hungry Thungrave kings. Maralyth Graylaern, a vintner’s daughter, has no idea her hidden magical power is proof of a secret bloodline and claim to the throne. Alac Thungrave, the king’s second son, has always been uncomfortable with his position as the spare heir—and the dark, stolen magic that comes with ruling.
When Maralyth becomes embroiled in a plot to murder the royal family and seize the throne, a cat-and-mouse chase ensues in an adventure of dark magic, court intrigue, and forbidden love.
Thank you Macmillan-Tor/Forge and NetGalley for an e-copy of this book.
In the realm of Perin Faye only the king is allowed to perform magic. Therefore, Maralyth/Mara has no other option but to hide her magic from her family for her whole life. She allows herself to give in only to help with taking care of her father’s vineyard. Her secret is not safe, and one day she’s forced to face the truth. She has magic because she is one of the last descendants of Dallowyn’s royal family who were gifted with magic by the Holy Gods. She has a rightful claim to the throne and this is a chance to save her family and her realm by taking part in a coup to kill the royal family of Thungraves, who stole the magic from the last king Dallowyn. However, when she meets the young Alac Thungraves she questions her role in the plan.
This was such a lovely read, I didn’t expect to be so invested in this story. The plot is told from two different perspectives, Mara and Alac. In the beginning, I was a bit underwhelmed by the general pacing, and I didn’t have any clue where these two plot lines were going. But then I slowly started to see where these two characters were going and from the right point when Alac and Mara meets, I couldn’t put the book down.
These two characters are quite the opposite – Alac doesn’t want to be king or become the heir to the throne and he is scared as much as every one of his father’s magic. Mara on the other end realises that she actually wants to become a queen and loves her magic, as she knows it can be used to do good for the realm.
I loved that she wasn’t for any moment unsure of her personal skills and capacity, but she kind of embraced the situation and be on board with it, like “you know what, I actually want to be a queen”. They both share love for wine and a strong interest in vinery and vineyard. I found it quite original, I personally never encountered this theme in another YA. However, for some reason, I kind of expected it to be like a turning point in the end, or I thought wine would play a big part in the story development but it didn’t.
I still enjoyed this story very much regardless of the wine bit. The romance was a slow development, it played a big part in the story but without taking the spotlight away from all the events around the coup. Other countries in this world and an imminent war among them are mentioned, so you get an idea this world is so much bigger and complex than what it is. It had still the right amount of details and sufficient world description for a stand-alone to not overload the reader. On the other hand, it makes me curious to read the writer’s future projects and to find out if they will be in the same world.
The fact that this was a stand-alone is a plus, I prefer stand-alones. The story was an easy read overall, with a fast pace, and it’s superbly written so it keeps you guessing until the end. It’s an easy read, with a cute fairy-tale-like romance, and a well-rounded ending of the story.