Princess Nalia spends her days at the castle getting into mischief with her best friend Kiernan, reading in the library, or attempting to solve an ancient code using books and her obvious intelligence. When she turns 16, her entire world is ripped out from under her when she is told she is, in fact, not the Princess Nalia, but rather a false Princess, raised in the castle in order to keep the actual Princess in hiding.
Nalia, now known as Sinda, is cast out of her home and away from the only family and friends she's ever known, sent to live with a less-than-friendly Aunt in a village far away from her life of privilege. While morphing into a hardworking peasant, Sinda discovers she has a magical ability and though, at first, unsure what to do with it, knows it can change her life and help her to solve the many secrets back at the castle.
A lovely book, filled with detailed descriptions and beautiful characterization. I was transported to Thorvaldor and was totally engaged from start to finish. There's drama, there's some romance (though nothing overly mushy), and just enough magic to make this a special story. I'm a HUGE fan of Shannon Hale's Books of Bayern series and I felt like this could have easily been one of them.
Sinda has courage and drive and gives readers a great example of a strong female character, without forgetting the guys. Kiernan was funny and sweet and I totally had a literary crush on him. All the characters were incredibly realistic, even with all the magical elements, and again, such great descriptions!
This one is being marketed to YA, however, I would easily give it to a 12 year old or even a bit younger. Concepts are easy enough to understand and the story is simply wonderful. I am a bit disappointed with the change in cover from ARC to finished copy...definitely makes it look like it's for older YA, but I'm going to handsell like crazy!
I can't wait to see what else O'Neal writes!
The False Princess
Review copy provided by publisher