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Book: “The Liar’s Crown” by Abigail Owen
Publishing Info: Entangled Teen, August 2022
Where Did I Get this Book: Edelweiss+
Book Description: Everything about my life is a lie. As a hidden twin princess, born second, I have only one purpose—to sacrifice my life for my sister if death comes for her. I’ve been living under the guise of a poor, obscure girl of no standing, slipping into the palace and into the role of the true princess when danger is present.
Now the queen is dead and the ageless King Eidolon has sent my sister a gift—an eerily familiar gift—and a proposal to wed. I don’t trust him, so I do what I was born to do and secretly take her place on the eve of the coronation. Which is why, when a figure made of shadow kidnaps the new queen, he gets me by mistake.
As I try to escape, all the lies start to unravel. And not just my lies. The Shadowraith who took me has secrets of his own. He struggles to contain the shadows he wields—other faces, identities that threaten my very life.
Winter is at the walls. Darkness is looming. And the only way to save my sister and our dominion is to kill Eidolon…and the Shadowraith who has stolen my heart.
Review: I’m on record as very much enjoying stories about sisters and the often beautiful but complicated relationships those can be. So it made requesting this book a bit of a no brainer. True, much of the general description sounds very familiar to other YA fantasies I’ve read. But there’s also the general adage that there’s nothing new under the sun and that all books are derivatives of others in some way or another! So request away I did!
Both magic and twins run in the royal line. But what could seen has only an odd quirk of a particular lineage has served this particular kingdom in ways known by few others. While one princess grows up as the heir to the thrown and eventually the Queen, the other lives a life unknown, stepping in to live as the royal sister when there are threats or other unknowns that may pose a risk to the true Queen. For Meren, living in her sister’s shadow has provided a sense of duty alongside a sense of claustrophobia. With no life to call her own, she struggles to carve out something of her own. But she also loves her sister, so when a threat comes in the night of her sister’s coronation, Meren steps up. So when the threat is fulfilled and the Queen is captured, it is Meren who falls into the grasp of a dark, deadly man.
While this book didn’t turn out to be all I had hoped it would be, there was still a lot to like. The writing was solid throughout. And, in particular, I think the dialogue was really well-done. The lines that were meant to be quippy were in fact funny. And characters had “voices” and manners to their speaking that made them feel like distinct characters. This is a writing skill that too often goes unnoticed, but when you stand back and look at books that come across as well-written and others that you find yourself struggling with, believable dialogue can often be found as a culprit either way. Some of my favorite authors are my favorite based almost purely on their skill at writing good dialogue.
I also really liked the characters. Meren was a sympathetic character, balancing a sense of loyalty and devotion to sister with the natural frustrations that would come from living life as a person whose entire existence is meant to be unknown. Further, I thought the love interest was also an intriguing character. There were a few reveals of him that came around the halfway mark that I found particularly interesting. These two also had good chemistry; again, I think much of this came down to the good dialogue work by the author.
But, in the end, I did find myself continuing to struggle to fully connect to the book. I was initially really into it, but as the story progressed, the entire thing began to feel more like a chore. Part of this came down to a familiar frustration for me with this kind of story: characters hiding and lying about things far past the point of believability. After a certain point, the more the author has to work to justify continuing the choice for character to continue to withhold important facts from each other. And the longer the story goes, the more these justifications begin to feel inadequate. Such was the case here. And once I started to feel annoyed about Meren’s choices in this regard, the more I struggled to get myself back into the story.
I also found myself returning to an early point in the book and a piece of history that was presented that plays an important part of the story: apparently, the villain (well known as a villain to all of the other kingdoms as well) has been stealing and killing Queens from this particular realm for quite some time. But somehow there is the assumption that the villain doesn’t know about the whole twin thing? I don’t quite get what everyone seems to think the villain character is making of the fact that the minute he captures one Queen another, identical one pops right up? It was all very weird, and as the story continued with this odd point being left to just sit there unchallenged, the more I became fixated on what should have been a minor plot point.
This is the type of book that I think will work for a lot of people. And, in fact, it was very close to working for me. There were just a few too many things that made me raise my eyebrows for me to really become invested in the story. If you like fantasy romance, however, this might be a good read for you!
Rating 7: This book has a lot of strengths, but it also fell into a few plot holes that I always struggle with. Will likely appeal to a lot of fantasy romance fans, however!
“The Liar’s Crown” can be found on this Goodreads list: Books with Crowns