BOOK CLUB: Crown of Coral and Pearl

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By Mara Rutherford

ISBN: 9781489282712
Publisher: Harper Collins Australia

Crown of Coral and Pearl is the debut published novel by Mara Rutherford. Its genre is classified as YA, Fantasy and it fits this genre perfectly. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would highly recommend it to young lovers of fantasy, those who enjoyed the Harry Potter series and are looking for something a little more adult, and those who have been fantasy fans for many years and are looking for a well written but “easy” fantasy read.

The story is based around identical twins Nor and Zaide, whose names mean coral and pearl, inhabitants of the ocean based village of Varenia. The kingdom of Ilara rules Varenia with an iron fist, determining the price they are paid for the beautiful pink pearls the Varenian people risk their lives to source, and controlling, for any real or perceived slight, whether the market traders will supply the fresh water the Varenian’s need to survive.

Varenia’s people are forbidden on pain of death from setting foot on Ilaran land, yet for years the most beautiful maiden of each generation from Varenia has been sent to the Kingdom of Ilara to marry the prince and become Ilara’s queen. For Varenia’s maidens the chance to be the chosen one, redeemed from a life of diving for oysters in the hope of finding the beautiful pink pearls so sought after by the Ilaran peoples, is a dream worth competing for.

Nor and Zaide have always been the front runners for the title of most beautiful, although Alys is also a front runner, her beauty marred by a snagtooth, but a childhood accident which left a small scar of Nor’s cheek has effectively ruled her out of the competition.

When the village elders choose Zaide the twins’ mother is ecstatic, all her hard work protecting Zaide’s beauty has paid off and soon Zaide will be leaving to marry the Crown Prince of Ilara, even though this means they will never have contact again.

Plans go astray however, when shortly before Zaide is due to leave she suffers an accident that makes it impossible for her to go. At great risk to herself, previous substitutions have not gone well, Nor agrees to take Zaide’s place and armed with stain to hide her scar, she travels to Ilara taking on the persona of Zaide.

However, when she gets to Ilara she discovers all is not as it seems, the King, while still young is dying from an unknown condition, his son, Prince Ceren the crown prince and her husband-to-be, is a malevolent person who clearly will stop at nothing to ensure his ascendency to the throne on the death of his father, and it seems that obsession may well result in the destruction of her childhood home and all those she loves dearly.

Nor’s one ray of light is Ceren’s half-brother Prince Talin, but the spark between them is just more fuel for Ceren’s increasingly abhorrent behaviour. Caught in a web of spies and intrigue Nor must work out who she can trust, and how to negotiate the protocols of a court mired in lies and treachery, in order to save her village, her family and especially Zaide.

Many thanks to Beauty and Lace Bookclub and HarperCollins publishers for the opportunity to read and review this book. I give it 4.5 stars.

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club members are reading Crown of Coral and Pearl by Mara Rutherford. You can read their reviews in the comments below, or add your own.

8 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Crown of Coral and Pearl

  1. Crown of Coral and Pearl is Mara Rutherford’s debut novel, and it is thoroughly engrossing – A tale of sisterly love, political intrigue and drama!

    This YA fantasy novel is set in both a water and a land based world. The heroine of the story, Nor, lives with her flawlessly beautiful twin sister and best friend Zadie in the ocean village of Varenia. All the homes here are built on stilts over the ocean and the Varenians depend on the sea for their livelihood… Even the sisters names Nor meaning coral and Zadie meaning pearl, derive from the key resources of their water world.

    After some interesting twists, Nor takes her identical twin Zadie’s place to become the betrothed of Crown Prince Ceren of Illara the land kingdom. Having never been on land before, just planting her feet on the ground is a novel thing. But Nor masquerading as her sister is not the only deception in the kingdom, and soon Nor becomes entangled in the politics and power struggles. She becomes caught between the two royal brothers Prince Talin and Prince Ceren, and the secrets of Illara’s dark and deathly castle. Her allegiances are put to the test, and in the end she is forced to fight for her own life and that of her fellow Varenians.

    A wonderful adventure. I could not put this book down. Fingers crossed it is part of a series!

  2. This was a great book to read for any YA out there.

    After reading the first few pages you are drawn into a village living on and surrounded by water where the goal for every young girl is to be the most beautiful. The prize – to be selected to become a princess.

    The story centers around Nor one half of a twin tragically scared when saving her sister from drowning. This is not however as bad as it first seems as the scar frees Nor from the trials and tribulations of doing everything possible to keep beautiful.

    The flip side to this story is the needs and challenges face by Nor and her twins village in finding enough food for the family in an area over fished and diving for the one real trade item they have, pink pearls.

    I wont give anything further away but the story line, character development and the weaving of the various characters through the story is a wonderful combination. Love, betrayal, friendship and tension build this story into a great story that will keep you reading until the very end!

  3. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read Crown of Coral and Pearl.
    I’m not really into Kings and Queens but I must admit this book was extremely well written with twist and turns and flowed really well.
    It’s the story about identical twin girls who live on the sea with their family and are struggling to survive.
    For many years the princesses of their ocean village have married the princes from IIara. The princesses don’t realise how dangerous this can be. With some disappearing or even been killed.
    With one of the twins being hurt the other must go in her place where she meets the most cruelest of Princes.
    How will she survive and will she ever see her family again?

    I highly recommend this book. I would love a sequel!!
    #HarperCollins Books Australia#

  4. September 2019 selection
    Beauty and Lace Book Club, 24 September, 2019
    Book Review: Crown of Coral and Pearl by Mara Rutherford
    Nor and Zadie are identical twin girls who grow up in a water focused world where beauty is the most valuable commodity so both are groomed from the day they were born to appreciate this beauty. An unfortunate accident leaves Nor with a scar ruining any chances of her to see the wondrous world beyond their sea kingdom.
    Zadie is gravely injured so Nor secretly takes her place to marry the Crown prince. However all is not as it seems, there are many mysteries to unravel, friends to make and plans to be had if their kingdom is to survive and her home to not be destroyed.
    This young adult novel is a great read, full of twists and turns to keep the reader occupied. Although I found the ending to be a bit rushed, or maybe it was just me not wanting to put the book down. I look forward to a hopeful sequel to hear more of Nor and Zadie.
    Thank you ‘Beauty & Lace Book Club’ and Harper Collins, for the opportunity to read and review Mara Rutherford’s ‘Crown of Coral and Pearl’.

  5. What a fantastic read, such a great young adult book filled with adventure, romance and grief.

    I’m crossing my fingers for a sequel or series!

    Would absolutely recommend.

  6. Crown of Coral sand Pearl may be classified as a YA novel but is definitely a great read for young and old. I devoured this book in 48 hours – something I haven’t done in over 5 years in my ‘pre children’ days!!!

    What an amazing first publication from author Martha Rutherford. A gorgeous blend of fantasy and romance whilst being centred around the beautiful sisterly bond of Nor and Zadie (Coral and Pearl).

    Whilst an easy read, this novel has great depth of its characters and the storyline was well developed and a total page turner!!!

    I too, found myself wanting more upon reaching the final page and would love to read anything Mara publishes in the future. Highly recommend this book to young and old adults alike!!!

  7. Life is hard when you are a twin but harder still when your whole life beauty has been paramount. This was the life of Nor and Zadie. Their town on the water supplies the next princess to the reigning power. Nor wants more from life than her little town but a scar ruined her chance as town beauty. Zadie wants to stay and marry the boy she loves.
    But is it all that great to be chosen… to be the princess?
    I normally take a week or more to read a book, i loved this one and read it in only a few days. I look forward to the next. Thanks Martha Rutherford for your creative notion and beauty and lace for this awesome book to read

  8. Thank you to Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read the Crown of Coral and Pearl. Nor and Zadie are identical twins and live with their parents in a village that is surrounded by the ocean. I found this setting quite whimsical and dreamlike. It takes you away to another
    world. For generations, the princes of Ilara have married the most beautiful maidens from this ocean village of Varenia. Both girls were candidates but due to a childhood accident it left Nor with a permanent scar which meant that Zadie was chosen to marry Prince Ceren. Due to romantic circumstances and a self inflicted injury to Zadie , Nor secretly takes her place. The dream of marrying the Prince is shattered once she meets him and furthermore the castle that’s carved into a mountain is just as dismal as her future husband. Once she gets to know Ceren’s brother, the charming Prince Talin she learns the truth behind the Royal bloodline and the plot to destroy her home. In order to save her people Nor begins her frightening and treacherous journey to stop the evil Prince. The story has alot of twist and turns that made it difficult to put the book down and it kept me up to the early hours of the morning to find out what was to become of the heroic Nor. Excellent story and a sequel would be fantastic.

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