Publisher: Inkyard Press
Author: Mara Rutherford
Release: August 27th, 2019
Warnings: Food restrictions, abuse
Crown of Coral and Pearl is the debut novel by Mara Rutherford, and it’s been getting a lot of hype and attention lately. Having read it, I can certainly see why. It’s the first novel in a series of the same name, and looks like it’s going to be an epic journey to the end.
The novel follows Nor, a twin who grew up on the island of Ilara. Her people catch clams and hunt for pearls to survive. All while the people in Varenia thrive off the exploitation of her people. Nor and her sister, Zadie, are two of the prettiest girls on the island, and thus to their mother (and the crown prince) hold a higher value than most others.
Crown of Coral and Pearl is a fantasy, with a lot of other themes gently touching upon the surface. It deals with a lot of the heavier elements of coming of age story, and tells a strong tale of resistance and fighting for what is right. It’s no wonder so many people have felt an emotional connection with this novel.
Warnings: Ilara is a beautiful island, but it has its downsides. Here is a world where food restrictions and starvation are a growing trend. The people also value beauty to an unhealthy degree, thanks mostly to the way Vaneria treats them.
Crown of Coral and Pearl is without a doubt one of the most emotionally compelling novels I’ve read this year. It’s intense and beautiful while dealing with darker tones and elements. It’s a tale that truly captivated me straight through to the end. And now I find myself looking forward to the sequel.
Nor’s tale was one that steadily unraveled as time went on. At first, it appeared that she and her sister lived in a paradise, only for the truth to be revealed with time. From that moment onward, all we seemed to see was Nor discovering obfuscated truths all around her.
Nor herself was a fantastic main character. She’s strong and independent, while also being fiercely loving and loyal to her sister. Many people in her shoes would have focused on the hurt, but she turned that hurt into something positive. She turned it outward and used it to drive her to make a change. It was really quite empowering to see her in action.
This novel was intense, especially at certain points. The kingdom and island structures are not set up for sustainability, and that was before the wicked prince started getting his hands into things. That made the struggle Nor was in feel all the more intense – knowing exactly what was on the line.
There were times where I had thought that I knew what was going to happen next, only to be surprised by what actually happened. I love that the twists and turns in this novel were not always predictable – though they always made sense in the context of the story.
Another brilliant element of this story was that all along it had been setting up a larger plot. It wasn’t until the end that I realized just how long this quest of Nor’s was going to be, or how far-reaching the effects would be.
I honestly can’t wait until Kingdom of Sea and Stone comes out, though obviously, I have quite some time to wait until that point. In the meantime, I suppose I’ll just wait for a cover reveal. If it’s anything like Crown of Coral and Pearl, I know it’s going to be striking.