"The False Princess" by Eilis O'Neal (Debut Author)

Princess Nalia had it all...until the day she discovered she wasn't really a princess, but a commoner named Sinda. She had spent the first sixteen years of her life as a decoy princess because there was a prophecy that the true heir to the throne might die before her sixteenth birthday. Feeling betrayed, Sinda heads for the country to live with the aunt she never knew she had, leaving behind the family and only home she'd ever known. Once in the countryside, however, Sinda discovers that she has the gift of magic. If she doesn't learn to control it, the dangerous power coursing through her veins could kill her. Knowing this, she returns to the palace city and begins to study magic. She reunites with Keirnan, the mischievous Earl of Rithia's son and her best friend. They soon uncover a dangerous plot that could destroy everything Sinda holds dear.

The False Princess is so hard to talk about without divulging spoilers. The plot is so intricate and complex. There are times you think you have a grasp on the story and where it's headed, but O'Neal throws in a plot twist and you're no longer sure how the book will end. There's danger, mystery, and intrigue lurking on every page. While the novel gets off to a slow start, it isn't long before readers will find themselves immersed in Sinda's plight. While she starts off as a weak character, by the end, she's become a strong heroine who has come into herself. I love books with strong female role-models. It's one reason Tamora Pierce has always been one of my favorite YA authors. O'Neal's writing style reminds me of Shannon Hale. In fact, one of Hale's novels, The Goose Girl, is very much a tale similar to this one, except in reverse: It is the princess' lady-in-waiting who usurps the role of princess and fools everyone.

This book has something for everyone. It falls into both the historical fiction and fantasy categories. On top of that, it reads like a fairytale, despite the fact that it's an original work. There's plenty of romantic tension between Sinda and Keirnan to keep a reader's interest, not to mention an overlying mystery woven throughout the novel.

I really like this book's dust jacket, too. I love the shades of purple, from the deep, royal color making up the wallpaper/curtain/(whatever it is) in the background to the more-subtle hues used for the cover model's make-up. I also love the story being told on the cover: Consider the fact that you can't see the model's face, but you CAN see the face of the girl on her locket. In my mind, the locket contains a portrait of the "true" princess while Sinda has once again disappeared in her shadow. It's a cover you won't think twice about until you've read the book.

Overall, I enjoyed The False Princess and thought it was a strong debut novel. My copy will sit proudly next to my other "fairytale-inspired" novels, including those by Hale.

[This entry is part of The Story Siren's Debut Author Challenge of 2011. See how I've done so far here.]


  1. I thought about how many fantasy novels (excluding UF) I've read thus far. But I can only remember Graceling. And I was think that maybe it's about time that I read more fantasies. I am definitely going to read this one. After Warped. :p

  2. Ooh, I love fairytale retellings also!! Have you read any Alex Flinn or Jackson Pearce? Do you have favorites or recommendations? Because I tend to either absolutely love or loathe lol.

  3. @Chel: I think you need to read more fantasies, too! I know this comment is old now; I think I responded on your blog when you r&red! So glad you enjoyed this and WARPED!!

    @Semisweet: If you love fairy tales, you'll love this. I haven't read anything by Alex Flinn or Jackson Pearce yet. I want to read Pearce soon. Flinn...I own BEASTLY, but I can't read it or any of her other books for a while. They're all modern fairy tales, which is what I'm working on in my own novel atm, so I don't want to be influenced! I'll send you a tweet with other recs! An absolute favorite is HEART'S BLOOD by Juliet Marillier!


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