Last year I was approached with a review copy of Princess in the Opal Mask by Jenny Lundquist–and this year I made good and sure I got hold of a copy of the sequel, The Opal Crown! As I said about the first one: a fairy tale retelling with gorgeous masks and strong heroines? Could a book be designed any more brilliantly to capture my interest? 🙂 This second book stems directly from the events of the first, so there will be spoilers for the first one…
In the year since she was betrothed to the crown prince of Kyrenica, no one has suspected that the Masked Princess has been a decoy. That Elara, the secret twin sister, has been pretending to be Princess Wilha all along. The royal family has kept Elara’s identity hidden from the world, and for the girls, swapping lives has not been easy. Galandra is quickly declining, and the sisters continue to be a pawn in the Guardian’s ever-changing endgames.
But the stakes rise when Elara and Wilha’s younger brother, Andrei, takes the Galandrian throne after their father’s death, and he reveals the girls’ deception to Kyrenica’s royal family. Viewed as traitors, Elara and Wilha realize they are now fighting for their lives—and for their country. However, with only one crown and one throne to overthrow, Elara and Wilha must decide who will become queen. Or rather, the next savior for their people.
In the first book we met Wilha, who grew up in the Opal Palace, forced without any explanation to always wear a mask; and Elara, who grew up in a Cinderella-like life that has made her wary of trusting others. The first book ended with both girls embarking on new lives they had each chosen. As the second book opens, it quickly becomes apparent that those new lives are unraveling around them.
There are many different forces and factions at play, with shifting alliances and an ever-present threat of revolution, civil war or a war with the neighboring country (yep, all of them!) The action and danger kept the book exciting and the plot moving forward. I don’t think I could give a precise explanation now of exactly how alliances and political maneuvering occurred throughout the book, but I never had trouble following as I was reading.
Wilha and Elara continue to be the central figures. Though both seemed to have reached a new self-awareness at the end of the first book, both continue growing in this second one. Elara is still seeking answers about her past, and Wilha still struggles with confidence. And perhaps most compelling of all, both girls are drawn to each other, but find it hard to trust one another.
In some ways this second book is darker than the first one. Certainly there are more tragedies, the stakes are higher and the atmosphere is more on edge. On the other hand–there’s also more romance! Each girl gets a love story that’s sweet even as it’s hard and complicated too.
Oddly, my favorite thing about this book may be how complicated everything is. Romance, self-growth, political allegiance…nothing works out neatly and easily. It’s messy and complicated in the way that life is.
Even the end is a little bit messy and complicated, but satisfying too. There were so many shifts and turns in the plot that it kept me guessing of how things would turn out. As it happened, my original guess was right–but I wasn’t sure about that along the way!
There’s no magic here and less of a fairy tale sense than in the first book–but there are gorgeous masks, strong heroines and an exciting plot. Don’t read this without the first one, but do read both!
Jenny Lundquist grew up in Huntington Beach, California, wearing glasses and wishing they had magic powers. They didn’t, but they did help her earn a degree in intercultural studies at Biola University. Jenny has painted an orphanage in Mexico, taught English at a university in Russia, and hopes one day to write a book at a café in Paris. Jenny and her husband live in northern California with their two sons and Rambo, the world’s whiniest cat.
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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Amazon links are affiliate links, so I get 4%ish if you purchase.