The False Princess
by Eilis O'Neal
9781606840795, $16.99, Egmont (Random House), Pub. Date: July 2010
This debut novel was a delight! Very strong writing, a satisfactory conclusion, love, danger, intrigue, magic, a prophecy, and three princesses.
After turning sixteen, Princess Nalia of Thorvaldor learns she is not the true heir. A prophecy made before her birth foretold the princess would die before her sixteenth birthday, and so the real princess has been hidden in a convent for sixteen years while she, the false princess, was raised in the castle. A spell had been cast over both the real princess and the false one, disguising them both. Now known as Sinda, the former princess is forced to leave the only home she has ever known and travel to her aunt's house in a little village far from the city life. Not only is she leaving her home, she is leaving the people she thought of as her parents and Keirnan, the boy she knew to be her best friend.
Struggling in her new life as a peasant - not that she's not willing, she just doesn't know how - Sinda discovers she has the ability to do magic. Returning to the city, she is taken in as an apprentice by Philantha, a somewhat eccentric master sorceress. Sinda is told that the spell she was under to make her look like the princess, also kept her magic from showing itself. While Sinda has an almost overwhelming amount of magic inside her, controlling that magic proves to be difficult.
Reuniting with Keirnan in the city brings Sinda great joy, but also puts her into contact with the real princess, Nalia. Or is it the real princess? Sinda discovers Nalia is under a spell, too. So, where, then is the real princess? What sort of conspiracy is going on, that there should be two false princesses? Sinda and Keirnan must retrace the steps of the princess's life, all the way back to the prophecy, in order to find out who is the evil behind this plot.
Sinda feels compelled to find the real princess and set things right, in order to be able to focus on who she, herself, is. If she can't figure that out, she'll never be able to control her magic or return the love Keirnan has for her.
A great YA fantasy read, I was most definitely not disappointed with the ending. The true princess is the best woman for the job, I think, and Sinda's future looks nothing but promising.