Title: Crown of Coral and Pearl
Author: Mara Rutherford
ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.
Crown of Coral and Pearl captured my attention from the first time I saw that cover and read the synopsis. Upon finishing the book I definitely had some mixed feelings. For the most part, I found it enjoyable and the story did an excellent job keeping my attention . However there were a few aspects that I didn’t like as much and effected my overall feelings about the book.
The setting was very unique and a really cool part of the book. The story starts out in Nor’s home of Varenia, which is quite literally built on the sea. Their houses are built on stilts and they use boats to travel from one house to another. The village life revolves around fishing and other seafood, and diving for pearls. Mara Rutherford does an amazing job capturing what it must be like to live in such a place with her descriptions.
I really liked Nor as the protagonist. She was very capable, selfless, intelligent, and kind. It was easy to sympathize with her plight and I rooted for throughout the book! The strong sibling relationship between Nor and her twin, Zadie, was also a positive aspect of the story.
The romance kind of killed some of the momentum for me. It was very insta-lovey and there was no actually reason why Nor falls in love with Talin other than she finds him extremely handsome. They spend some time alone together, but not nearly enough to convince me that their relationship is real and fulfilling.
The pacing was the only other thing that really bothered me. I don’t know why, but it just felt really off. I feel like the story itself was fast-paced, but not a whole lot is going on plot-wise for much of the first half of the book. For instance, what felt like only the halfway point of the story’s plot was actually the 77% mark of the book (thanks, Kindle). At the time that I was reading, I was under the impression that this was as standalone (the ending reads like one) and so the pacing did feel right, especially since the ending kind of wrapped up quickly compared to the rest of the book. I’ve since check again and apparently there will be a sequel and I truly believe that that is a good thing!
Crown of Coral and Pearl introduces readers to a smart, adept heroine sure to please and a setting unlike others in YA fantasy. This didn’t quite check all the boxes for me, but I can see others really loving it!