Wil, the princess of the wealthiest nation in the world, is the youngest of four, making her the third spare to the thrown. She dreams of travelling the world, and growing up with three older brothers has ensured that she is tough enough to do so. However, when an altercation with a black market vendor takes a deadly turn, she discovers a power she never knew she had—to turn any living she touches to precious gemstone. Her power soon leads to tragedy, and Wil finds herself fleeing her kingdom and everything she loves. She wants to find a way to free herself from this strange power, but she soon discovers that it will be far more complicated than she could have ever known.
In her latest novel, DeStefano builds a very interesting world and story around a fierce princess. Her world is a cross between a typical fantasy world full of royalty, magic, and swordfights and more modern technologies, such as electricity. In this novel, we are only able to get a small glimpse of this world, with kingdoms in the north and the south receiving most of the attention. I’m hoping that the second book in this duology will show us even more of this world, and DeStefano could definitely set another duology or a trilogy in this world if she chose.
I especially enjoyed Wil as a character. She is not only heroic and resilient as most protagonists are, but she also destroys many of the conventional images of princesses. However, I appreciate how her perspective on some of the more tedious aspects of her old life change as the story progresses.
Wil’s extraordinary fighting ability is intriguing as well, but I was a little disappointed with some of its inconsistencies. Her fights at the beginning of the book seem far less successful than many of her fights later in the book, and this isn’t because of her newfound ability to turn things into gemstone. I would have liked to better understand how an unskilled vendor at the beginning of the book could pose such a threat when she faces more skilled opponents later with much more success.
Regardless, I enjoyed the complex relationships that DeStefano creates. The family relationships feel especially realistic, as these types of relationships are often complex before you add the complications of power and wealth that come with the throne of a prosperous nation. The second book in this duology will no doubt shed additional light on Wil’s mysterious troubles, and I look forward to the conclusion of her story.