Review: The False Princess, by Eilis O'Neal

I came across this book while browsing possible debut novel for the Debut Author Challenge. I thought the story sounded interesting and it reminded me of a teenage version of some of Gail Carson Levine's books.  And beside there is so much YA paranormal these days, that I will almost jumped on any YA Fantasy book I can get my hands on that sounds remotely decent. Fortunately, this book was more than decent, and I am quite happy I took the chance of buying it without knowing much abou it.

Nalia, crown princess of Thorvaldor, learns on her sixteenth birthday that she is really Sinda, a poor peasant girl who was raised as the princess due to a prophecy that said there was a great chance of an attack on the princess' life before she was sixteen. The King and the Queen, worried for their childs's life, agreed on a plan in which the real princess would be hidden for sixteen years, while another girl, born around the same time, would take her place. Now Sinda is sent to her aunt's house in the countryside, far from everything she has ever known. Unable to adapt to her new life (not for lack of trying) and with the discovery of magical talents that has laid latent inside of her for all these years, she makes her way back to the city in hope of becoming a wizard. To her dismay, she soon discover a plot to usurp the throne from the rightful princess. Sinda, with the help of her best friend Kiernan, who never deserted her, is now in a race against the clock to discover who the conspirators are, and stop them before it's too late.

I must say, I thoroughly liked this book. It was was really well paced, the plot constantly moving forward with hardly any slower parts. The plot istself was intricate, but still simple to follow. The characters were, in general, endearing and fun. Sinda was a good protagonist, I enjoyed seeing her grow through the novel. She genuinely tries to adapt to her poor life once outside the castle. Sinda wants more than anything to figure out what and who she is, she wants to prove to herself and the people around her that she can be somebody even if she isn't a princess anymore. After all, how does one cope with being a princess and the future Queen, one moment, and a nobody the next? Sinda is constantly plagued by self-doubt, constantly questioning herself and how people see her, which at times can become a bit annoying. But the beauty of her is that she always rise up to the occasion in the end. I found myself liking the other characters as well, especially Kiernan, the real princess and  Philanthra, the wizard who takes her on as her scribe. The False Princess is the story of a girl and her growth, of love and loyalty. Thre wasn't any "wow" moment for me, but it was a solid first novel, a quick read, and quite enjoyable at that. I look forward to more from this author.
For fans of Gail Carson Levine and Robin McKinley.


  1. i like that she goes from a princess to a peasant instead of the other way around. all too often YA books feature stories where the protagonist is poor and valued as nothing without money or what have you, and suddenly becomes rich/famous/royalty/etc.
    it sounds like a good book, i'm going to have to put it on my to-read list!

  2. @honey bee
    Yes! That's what attracted me to the story first. I thought it was a nice reversal of the usual story.