Ashley's Reviews > The False Princess

The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal
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Oct 08, 11

bookshelves: want-to-own, blog
Read in April, 2011

Originally reviewed on my blog, Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing.

The False Princess by Ellis O'Neal is the story of Nalia, a 16 year old princess who finds out shortly after her birthday that she is not the princess after all. After a prophecy that stated the princess could die before her 16th birthday, the king and queen and their trusted magical advisors secretly switched the true princess with a peasant to keep her safe. Now that they have reached 16, the princess will live, and it is now safe to bring the princess, who has no idea who she is out of hiding. This means that Nalia, or rather, Sinda must leave. She is sent with no training or preparation to live in a small village with an aunt who believed her dead, and was happy to keep it that way. But it would be too easy to end our story there. There is far more in store for Sinda. She just has to wait.

The False Princess is a strong story. It has all the elements necessary to a great book- The writing is engaging, clear and vivid. The characters are unique and individuals. There are no stock characters here. Each has their own personality, their own tastes, their own motivations. And the story itself, Oh the story! Everyone likes the idea that we are more than we first imagine ourselves to be. That there is something within each of us that is destined for greatness. Sometimes, the circumstances of our birth give us the opportunity to cultivate that, to let it out. Sometimes, they conspire against us to keep us down. And others times, as with Sinda, things get so twisted up that you barely know up from sideways anymore. But no matter what our circumstances would dictate our lives to be, we make of them what we will, and we grow into who we would be.

While this story isn't a fairy tale retelling, it does have the elements important to a fairy tale, and it leaves a reader with a feeling of Once Upon a Time. It has a princess, heroes in unlikely places, a dashing love interest, magic, evil, surprises, and hope. It is a story that will speak to everyone who has ever wished to be a princess, to everyone who has ever wanted a little bit of magic in their life, and to everyone who has wanted to make a difference in the lives of those around them.

The world and character building of O'Neal here is spot on. She has brilliantly captured what it would be like to go from royalty to peasant in the space of an afternoon. When she gets to her aunt's house, she has no idea what to do, or how to work. She has never had to do any of these things on her own before. She doesn't make friends easily, doesn't understand the people around her, and doesn't feel like she is ever going to fit in. She also begins to see the world from an entirely new perspective. She begins to understand the casual cruelty that comes from never having wanted for anything, from being given everything you have ever wanted or needed. The king and queen took her from her family as an infant with no thoughts beyond saving their daughter. If a peasant girl had to die in the process, so be it. They don't think much about their people because they don't understand their life. So what if they are a little poor. They should just work harder. The gift they gave to her aunt for taking Sinda into her home is useless. In theory or thought, it's a lovely gift, but one with absolutely no use in her life. Sinda never noticed things like this as a princess, and as she begins to realize these things, she changes. She grows as a person.

No review of this book would be complete without some mention of Keirnan, who has been Nalia Sinda's best friend for as long as they can remember. He is the perfect friend for Sinda, carefree where she is more serious, and always there for her. You don't see a lot of him in the beginning section of the book, after Sinda leaves the castle, but the few times we do get to meet him, it is very clear how much he cares for her, how much he wants her to be happy, and yes, how much he cares for her. He's exactly the kind of best friend (male or female) that everyone needs.

Overall, this is a book worth reading again and again. This is O'Neal's debut novel and I find myself eagerly awaiting announcements of her future releases. She is an author to watch, and this is a book to be read. So go do it. Now. And then come back and tell me that you loved it as much as I did. Go ahead. I'll still be here when you get back. :)
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message 1: by Inoli (new) - added it

Inoli After that comment I'm not even going to bother with the synopsis.


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