Crown of Coral and Pearl

Crown of Coral and Pearl

For generations, the princes of Ilara have married the most beautiful maidens from the ocean village of Varenia. But though every girl longs to be chosen as the next princess, the cost of becoming royalty is higher than any of them could ever imagine…Nor once dreamed of seeing the wondrous wealth and beauty of Ilara, the kingdom that’s ruled her village for as long as anyo...

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Title:Crown of Coral and Pearl
Author:Mara Rutherford
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Crown of Coral and Pearl Reviews

  • Elly

    I love this book! I was fortunate enough to read an early copy, and was immediately entranced by the rich, atmospheric world. Nor and Zadie have one of the most touchingly authentic sister relationships I've ever encountered, and Nor's journey has all the tension, twists, and romance I crave in YA fantasy. Couldn't put this one down!

  • Christie«SHBBblogger»

    Crown of Coral and Pearl

    Crown of Coral and Pearl #1

    Mara Rutherford

    August 27, 2019

    fantasy, YA

    I wasn't prepared for how obsessed I would feel about this story. How I'd be so completely absorbed with these characters' lives that I'd care more about their welfare than being gritty eyed and sluggish the next day. Yes, it's one of those Sacrifice Proper Sleep kind of books. After blogging for so long I probably go through twenty-five potentially exciting bo

    Crown of Coral and Pearl

    Crown of Coral and Pearl #1

    Mara Rutherford

    August 27, 2019

    fantasy, YA

    I wasn't prepared for how obsessed I would feel about this story. How I'd be so completely absorbed with these characters' lives that I'd care more about their welfare than being gritty eyed and sluggish the next day. Yes, it's one of those Sacrifice Proper Sleep kind of books. After blogging for so long I probably go through twenty-five potentially exciting books before I find one that hits the mark in every single way like this one. Honestly, this is why I read! To find something that will knock your socks off, blow your hair back, give you the biggest rush of giddiness after flipping the last page. Fantasy lovers, stop right here and make this one a priority. It's a fantastical tale about the fierce bond of sisterhood, what one will sacrifice for true love, and the other's lesson about the importance of strength of character instead of fleeting beauty.

    I was almost instantly drawn into Nor and Zadie's fascinating home of Varenia. The two twins live in a small ocean community that looks idyllic from the outside, but in reality there's only two ways to achieve anything. Be flawlessly beautiful, enough that you'll be chosen by the elders to marry a Prince of Ilara. Or collect enough clams from the dwindling supply underwater in order to find the pearls that will keep your family fed. Neither prospect is particularly easy or simple. People are starting to really struggle to put food on the table, and surely circumstances will be even worse once they're completely picked over. How will they survive? Nor and Zadie's mother is more desperate than ever to have one of them chosen to reap the glory and bride price.

    Their mother was a despicable and selfish human being. She threw all of her time and energy into Zadie in order to maintain her perfect outward appearance. In this society beauty was power, and she was determined to use whomever she needed to in order to get it. She thought nothing of her child potentially leaving and never seeing her again, or ripping her away from the only home she ever knew when it was clear she had no desire to marry a strange man in a strange land. In fact, she deliberately

    to hurt both her daughters very cruelly. The way she treated Nor after she saved her sister's life and became scarred was as if she didn't even exist anymore. But when she did notice she was there, she was verbally abusive and made Nor feel worthless because of her appearance. Prepare to hate this woman, that's all I've got to say.

    The only positive that came out of Nor's situation was that she became physically and mentally stronger because of all of the challenges heaped on her. And if she had no chance of being chosen and seeing the world that she dreams of exploring, at least her sister will have that. It's hard to imagine being banned from venturing out of your village, to be trapped there with no means of escape and so isolated that trees, horses and roses are things you've heard of but never seen. Your world encompasses the sea, the sun, and the warm breeze on your skin. I really liked the concept of the blood coral, how it grew near the bodies of the departed who are put out to sea. And the mysterious qualities and benefits it seemed to have that the people there don't fully understand.

    Through a twist of fate, Nor is sent to New Castle where she will impersonate her twin sister in order to fulfill the betrothal. She thinks this is the answer to everyone's prayers, but she couldn't have been more wrong. She has a dangerous path ahead of her if she's going to survive this new life of hers on land. The prince is nothing like she imagined, and the prosperous land is a dark and unwelcoming place that seems to breed illness in people. She went from a simple life to backstabbing aristocracy, royal machinations, and cruelty like she's never witnessed before. Not only is her life in danger, but everything she holds dear to her heart back home. She must make the right allies and outwit those who hold all of the power.

    There is a romance, but it's not a love triangle situation. As someone who's a romance reader at heart who also loves a good fantasy, Ms. Rutherford delivered the goods on a perfectly balanced heart-stopping adventure and well drawn out relationship with the love interest. Of course it wasn't the main focus, but it still felt developed enough in the background for it to feel natural and realistic. Make no mistake though, Nor is the star of the show here, as she stood up for what's right, fought for those who couldn't themselves, and discovered just how much of a difference one person could make if they believed in themselves enough. The sisters' love for each other really shined brightly. It was so powerful that time and distance could not dim or tarnish it.

    I can't sing this book's praises enough!! When I first got the arc, I wasn't entirely sure if this was a standalone or not, but it looks like the author has been cleared for a follow up! Even though this

    have ended at book one, I certainly don't want to give up this world quite yet. Not by a long shot. There was plenty of potential written in for a continuation so I couldn't be more excited we will get to return sometime next year with

    Snatch this hidden gem up...or should I say pearl? This is an absolute must read!!

  • Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer

    Read that title... What comes to mind?! Mermaids, right?! Well this isn't exactly a mermaid book but its really close... That, twin sisters and the cover really sold me on wanting to read Crown of Coral and Pearl! And you can't blame me right?! You kind of want to read it now too... except it would help if I told you whether it was worth it or not...

    Well, I think the cover is gorgeous! And it does echo themes and ideas in the book and pe

    Read that title... What comes to mind?! Mermaids, right?! Well this isn't exactly a mermaid book but its really close... That, twin sisters and the cover really sold me on wanting to read Crown of Coral and Pearl! And you can't blame me right?! You kind of want to read it now too... except it would help if I told you whether it was worth it or not...

    Well, I think the cover is gorgeous! And it does echo themes and ideas in the book and perfectly suits the title too. While the title is a little nonsensical as the coral and pearls represent the two sisters and they aren't vying for the crown. I do like that it reflects the core relationship in Crown of Coral and Pearl and why Nor chooses as she does with the princes.

    I really enjoy twins, so twin sisters really put two of my favorite things together in Crown of Coral and Pearl. And we aren't disappointed with their relationship at all! In fact, we stay in their ocean village of Varenia for half the book in order to really understand and experience their bond. Nor has taken the brunt of the tasks to keep them alive, hunting for oysters around the dangerous red coral since she's already out of the running to be the prince's bride. But these pearls aren't just important for economic purposes they play a much darker role, responsible for much of Nor's people's hardships.

    Zadie is the sister who is more of a homebody. Unlike Nor she'd be content to stay in their village all of her life and be a wife and mother to her family. In order to have this dream Zadie is will to take some brutal steps that may not even pay off and puts everything that Nor has been doing to keep them alive in jeopardy! I found Zadie quite selfish but also quite brave. Nor wasn't willing to take such extreme steps to have the life she wanted so I really admired how both sisters reflected each other but in their own way. It really shows female readers that it's okay to be you!

    As we moved into the second half of Crown of Coral and Pearl I wasn't as impressed. This was meant to be a standalone fantasy that was eventually expanded into at least a duology. As a result all the setup from the first half of the book was mostly useless as we moved into Ilara. We had to be totally re-setup as we learned about the princes and their situations. And this wasn't done nearly as well as the sisters' setup was executed. I was especially disappointed in the love interest's prince and how little time he spent with Nor before they were officially in love. I actually would have preferred it sticking with attraction only with longing glances and awkward but cute moments.

    Of everything developed in this second half of Crown of Coral and Pearl Prince Ceren was certainly the best! He is a morally grey character that is quite sinister because he has such absolute power over Nor and her people. I really enjoyed learning about his obsession, the lengths he was willing to take it and his smart intervention of his more physically talented brother. He makes the end more satisfying and the now confirmed sequel a book to look forward to!

    I read Crown of Coral and Pearl quite swiftly, almost in one sitting. I try not to do this as I've noticed in the past that I simply accept what I'm being told is happening and don't question it as much. In other words there isn't enough time to really think about if something makes sense or not. I feel like Crown of Coral and Pearl is a great book if you sit and read it all in one sitting. You get a bit of twins, sisters, brothers, morally grey, princes, all daubed with a bit of cruelty. But if you read it slower you notice a lot that isn't right...

    The foundation was quite good! The two settings, one in an ocean village and the other in a creepy keep literally built into a mountain, were both stellar and I could totally envision them. We get this immersive history between the two nations, one a tiny ocean dwelling people who are gorgeous and the other a mountain kingdom that must be governed by a strong hand, that made how these two interact quite compelling. And we have two half brothers who have become the men they are because of the beautiful woman who came to be a queen to their father.

    Writing this review was so hard! For the simple fact that this is a world that I would want to explore. Yet there were a handful of discordant notes. Zadie and Nor's mother. Why Nor seemed to fall for Talin. As close as the sisters were, Zadie never confided what she wanted to Nor. The theme of beauty and what is really important contradicted itself. Still Crown of Coral and Pearl has a lot going for it! If you enjoy fantasy but don't want to commit to a long series you may want to consider this read about twin sisters, brother princes and the coral and pearls that bind them together.

    -A sisters relationship.

    Zadie and Nor's life diverged when Nor gets into an accident, do you think Zadie ever regretted not being in Nor's place? As close as they were do you think Nor should have realized what Zadie's reaction would be at the elders' decision? Since they're twins do you believe they could have just deceived everyone and switched places?

    -The love interest.

    Talin and Nor meet under unexpected circumstances... yet he doesn't reach out to her. Do you think he should have? Nor and Talin interact quite infrequently, do you think Nor is infatuated with his appearance and good health? Talin makes an extreme choice at the end of the book, was it a decision that made sense? How does he compare to his brother Ceren?

    -The cruel prince.

    Ceren is not blessed with the genes or health of Talin, instead he is quite talented with logic and engineering. Would this effect how you see him upon learning he's who you're to marry? Would you have made the choice Nor did at the lake? Why or why not? Do you think he ever could have been close to Talin as a brother?

    -Imperfect mothers.

    Their mother treats Nor abominably when Zadie makes the decision that effects who will go to the prince, would you have understood her reaction like Nor did? Does the way Talin's mother treated Ceren as a child sound cruel? In the history between these nations a mother and queen makes the decision to oppress the ocean people for what happened to her daughter. Is it "just life" that other people's choices effect our own?

    -Special coral and pearls.

    What did you think about how Nor was able to survive Ceren's experiments? Do you believe in the power of herbal and natural healing remedies? Do you believe as Nor does about what makes the coral special?

    Crown of Coral and Pearl takes us to a stellar fantasy world where coral and pearls are a currency rich in unexpected treasure. Twin sisters make decisions that will change the fate of two nations... While brother princes battle to rule their mountain kingdom. Go from the ocean to the mountains and see who survives...!

    ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Authenticity

    ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Writing Style

    ⋆ ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐ Plot & Pacing

    ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ World Building

    A- Cover & Title grade

    ______________________

    You can find this review and many others on my book blog @

    . Read my special perspective under the typewriter on my reviews...

  • Laurie –A Court of Books–

    Seventeen-y

    Seventeen-year-old Nor grew up in Varenia, an isolated village on the ocean.

    They survive by harvesting and trading rare pink pearls that have impressing healing properties and that can only be found in their area. But the oysters containing the pearls are getting scarce and the divers have to take more risks, putting themselves

    In addition to that, the price of the pearls has recently drastically dropped and the people of Varenia are struggling to meet ends, growing poorer and hungrier.

    Nor sees her father getting skinnier, and his ribs are more visible each day, and she has only one hope left. It’s a tradition that has always existed,

    , in exchange, her family will never ask for anything ever again. Nor and her identical twin sister Zadie have been raised for this all their life, however, after an accident including blood coral which Nor barely survived, she ended up being scared on the face, ruining her chance to be chosen.

    She is happy that after this incident, her mother stopped putting her daughter in competitions and that she was able to grow in harmony with her sister, and she is sad because being chosen was her only chance to fulfil her need to escape her village and see the world.

    The inevitable happens; the elders choose Zadie to be the prince’s betrothed and everything is as it should be. However, quiet and docile Zadie confesses to her sister that doesn’t want to go, she is in love with their childhood best friend, Sami, and this love is reciprocal.

    One night, a couple of days before her official departure, she deliberately hurts herself with a jellyfish her in order to scar a part of her body large enough to force the elders to change their decision. Having already communicated a portrait of Zadie,

    . And so Nor goes, determined to relate to the current King the dire situation in which is her people and to convince him to help them

    I was honestly

    of this book and the pacing was close to perfection and those two points didn’t seem like those of a debut novel for me. I’m a sucker for everything sea-related and

    It was so vivid I actually felt like I was there. How the girls spend time in the water, swimming, hunting for pearls, taking the boat to go see their friends, getting up early to see the sunrise, jumping from their patio straight to the sea, the dangers of the sea and how they are prepared since young age, their clothing habit (up to the point of their habits of walking around barefooted)… It was so developed, I feel like

    All this made the contrast with New Castle stand out even more. The fortress carved directly in the mountain, with no light, no warmth made me feel as trapped as Nor felt.

    It made Prince Ceren’s obsession with the pink pearls easy to understand and his fear of early death so relatable. His insecurities are legitimate, however, I wished he would have been written as a more grey character, and I felt like I was feeling for him only because his anxieties were close to mines. The two things that were a real problem for me were

    This book is supposed to be about Nor emancipating herself from the importance of beauty, embracing her imperfections and celebrating all kind of beauties. And yet, Nor’s feeling for the love interest seems to be driven solely by his beauty and ‘sea-blue eyes’.

    Nor was a strong-willed, independent and capable character and I really enjoyed reading from her point of view, nonetheless when the love interest was around Nor was acting immature and out of character, forgetting her lifelong goals and making the worst decisions. That’s being said, I have to insist on my favourite part of this book –after the world-building– and that is

    It’s always difficult to write about twins, to give them both an identity without being caricatural and to always be reminded when the other half of this duo is away. Mara did perfectly well here, the twin sister was not a plot purpose, it was carved in Nor’s journey, all the time.

    Sometimes it reminded me of Fred and George Weasley and that’s the best compliment I can ever give to any author. I have so many beautiful quotes about it and I decided to select my favourite, to finish and a sweet note:

  • sandeep

    Thank you, NetGalley and Harlequin Australia, for sending me an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review! :)

  • Chelsea Humphrey

    Even though I have a plethora of books on my shelves, as every reader is entitled to

    , I will still venture out to NetGalley to snag an arc of a book that a trusted friend raves about.

    wasn't even on my radar, yet a fabulous review from Sol encouraged me to rush and request it immediately. Once approved, I started it the very same day, and I can't begin to tell you what an excellent decision that was. Although it appears to have taken me forever to read this book, it's only due to the fact I was on vacation at Disney World with the family, and had to sneak in every page possible around our tight schedule.

    Yes, this is the type of truth bomb that sets the scene for the first installment in the duology. Surprisingly, I enjoyed the first half of the book more than the second, even though the first part was the more predictable section. This is partially due to the fact that it's glaringly obvious in the synopsis, but also because this is the portion that is atmospheric, world-building, and develops characters before things get going. The author's descriptions are lush and immersive, and I couldn't get enough of this unique place where a minority group is being held under the oppressive hand of the land lubbers, even though the people in power have a lower life expectancy, and quality of life in general. This section also features multiple grounded platonic relationships, and I adored the fact that we get an invasive look into the detailed structure of this fantastical place. There are complex dynamics in this dysfunctional family, and I am grateful that these were exposed in great detail for the reader.

    I didn't hate the second half of the book, but I found myself a great deal less invested once Nor leaves her community to take her sister's place as Prince Ceren's fiance. I feel the need to give a head's up to the fact that there is a heavy handed insta-love situation here, and even though I'm not entirely opposed to that trope, this one felt it was created to manipulate the reader on multiple levels. From the moment both characters interact on paper, it's clear that Talin is meant to be her love interest, and that this relationship is intended to further Ceren's role as antagonist. Again, it wasn't bad, but I actually found myself sympathizing more with Ceren than with either Talin or Nor during the second half of the book.

    The ending was intense, exciting, and overall very satisfying, and I'm pleased that I knew going in there would be another book to give us a bit more. If you're looking for an engaging YA fantasy with a unique setting that goes down like smooth butter, this one's for you. I appreciate that the author tackled some tough subjects while promoting female value beyond outward appearance, and I can't wait to see how she chooses to wrap up the storyline.

  • Namera [The Literary Invertebrate]

    Right up until the end, I thought this was going to be a 4-star read. Nor was wonderfully smart, the politics were actually interesting, and I loved the premise of the story. But there were three main problems:

    Right up until the end, I thought this was going to be a 4-star read. Nor was wonderfully smart, the politics were actually interesting, and I loved the premise of the story. But there were three main problems:

    Like I said, the premise really good. Seventeen-year-old

    (whose name means 'coral') lives in the ocean village of Varenia with her twin sister

    ('pearl'). It's literally an ocean village - the houses are on stilts over the water, and due to an ancient rule made by the nearby land kingdom of Ilara, no Varenian is allowed to go to shore.

    With one exception: whoever is chosen by the village elders to be the next queen of Ilara. Once every generation, the most beautiful girl in the village will travel to Ilara to wed the king. Nor has always wished it could be her, because she feels stifled in her tiny beauty-obsessed village with a mother who wants nothing more than to have gorgeous daughters. But she can never be chosen. A childhood accident left her with a tiny blemish on her cheek, and it's Zadie whom everyone knows will be picked. And when Zadie is picked, everything is as it should be.

    Only, Zadie doesn't want to go. She's in love with their childhood friend

    , and she's willing to go to desperate lengths to make sure she isn't sent away from him forever. Nor is packed off to Ilara instead, armed with a pot of cream designed to hide her scar - the only thing identifying her from Zadie. There she meets her betrothed

    , a mercurial and oddly cruel young man. She also meets his half-brother

    , much more handsome and kind, whom she feels drawn to immediately.

    Nor quickly realises that things are rotten in the state of Ilara. The Ilaran nobles are weak and aged, compared to the healthy youthfulness of Varenians. Ceren believes it's because of the blood pearls: rare pink pearls harvested only in Varenia, they're its main export. But the pearls are running thin and Nor's people are starving. She will have to balance the needs of her people with appeasing her spoiled, maniacal husband-to-be.

    Right, let me start with the negatives.

    This was, quite frankly,

    . Talin is an extraordinarily handsome man. Nor is an extraordinarily beautiful girl. Naturally, they fall in love with each other! I had no idea WHY she was attracted to him beyond stupidly superficial stuff like his 'sea-blue eyes', or whatever. This is a book which is supposed to be about celebrating all kinds of beauty, not just the physical. It's trying to show us how wrong Varenia is to be obsessed with beauty. And yet? All we see of Talin is his good looks. It was very ironic but also totally destroyed any page where he appeared.

    It also

    . She's clearly a clever girl, avoiding many of the TSTL traps which can ensnare a fantasy heroine who's not careful. Yet she actively annoyed her actual fiancé by flirting with his brother right in front of him. What the hell? Why would you deliberately annoy Ceren, whom you know has got a bad temper, like that? And why are you attracted to him AT ALL?

    Ah, Ceren. Where do I begin with him? The author definitely tried to humanise him, but it's reached such a peak that I feel more for him than I do for Nor, or the 2D-cardboard-cut-out that is Talin. His mother died when he was young, and his father immediately remarried to a gorgeous new bride who gave birth to a gorgeous young son. Who WOULDN'T feel threatened in that sort of situation? Especially because it's made obvious that Talin's mother disliked her husband's heir, was jealous her own son wouldn't get the throne, and did her best to exclude Ceren from family activities.

    When they matured, Ceren was uglier and less social than Talin, who easily won hearts wherever he went. And THEN Ceren's own fiancée Nor appeared and made it obvious from the beginning that she preferred his brother to him - like everyone else on the planet. You really have to feel for Ceren here.

    Nor and Talin don't come off well here at all. Nor just latched onto handsome Talin and never let go; Talin is far too quick to hate an elder brother who has never actually hurt him. Yes, Ceren is definitely no saint, but

    by the author or any of the characters.

    I obviously can't say too much here, because spoilers. But it was

    . It also relied heavily on Nor's character making a U-turn from what it was previously written as.

    ✔️ Wonderful exploration of the difficult, but always close, relationship between twins.

    ✔️ Quite good world-building.

    ✔️ Good pacing; I wasn't bored for lack of action.

    ✔️ When Talin wasn't around, I did respect Nor and her lack of stupid actions.

    This seems to be a standalone, which is a good thing since I'm not sure I would have read a sequel. It was an okay read but once I saw the direction it was heading in (at the 70% mark) I struggled a bit to finish.

    -

  • BookHugger

    did i add this to my tbr just because the cover's pretty? no, why would you suggest that?

  • Candace Robinson

    So right away, I really liked the first half of this book. The sister bond was well done and I really connected with Nor.

    For me, I kept waiting for the romance to build between Nor and Talin, or take away the romance. I loved their connection at the beginning of the book but then their whole relationship was underdeveloped, which would have been fine, but I kept getting insta love vibes from Nor! Ceren was actually well developed and he was quite the baddy, but I liked him?

    The writing was beauti

    So right away, I really liked the first half of this book. The sister bond was well done and I really connected with Nor.

    For me, I kept waiting for the romance to build between Nor and Talin, or take away the romance. I loved their connection at the beginning of the book but then their whole relationship was underdeveloped, which would have been fine, but I kept getting insta love vibes from Nor! Ceren was actually well developed and he was quite the baddy, but I liked him?

    The writing was beautiful and the world the author created was really cool. Side note: I with there would have been more Sami! He was probably my favorite character and there should definitely be a whole book on him!

  • Tucker

    911: 911, what's your emergency?

    Me: Yes! I would like to report a robbery.

    911: And what has been stolen?

    Me: My soul. My soul has been taken by a book cover.

    911: ...

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