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Crown of Coral and Pearl #1

Crown of Coral and Pearl

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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 anyone can remember. But when a childhood accident left her with a permanent scar, it became clear that her identical twin sister, Zadie, would likely be chosen to marry the Crown Prince—while Nor remained behind, unable to ever set foot on land.

Then Zadie is gravely injured, and Nor is sent to Ilara in her place. To Nor’s dismay, her future husband, Prince Ceren, is as forbidding and cold as his home—a castle carved into a mountain and devoid of sunlight. And as she grows closer to Ceren’s brother, the charming Prince Talin, Nor uncovers startling truths about a failing royal bloodline, a murdered queen… and a plot to destroy the home she was once so eager to leave.

In order to save her people, Nor must learn to negotiate the treacherous protocols of a court where lies reign and obsession rules. But discovering her own formidable strength may be the one move that costs her everything: the crown, Varenia and Zadie.

432 pages, Hardcover

First published August 27, 2019

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About the author

Mara Rutherford

6 books1,094 followers
Mara Rutherford began her writing career as a journalist but quickly discovered she far preferred fantasy to reality. A triplet born on Leap Day, Mara has lived all over the world with her diplomat husband and two sons. She is the author of Crown of Coral and Pearl and its sequel, Kingdom of Sea and Stone; Luminous; and the upcoming THE POISON SEASON (December 6, 2022).

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,883 reviews
Profile Image for jessica.
2,510 reviews31k followers
October 11, 2020
if ‘grace and fury’ and ‘red queen’ had a love child who spent the summers with their distant aunt in ‘house of salt and sorrows,’ it would be this book.

i found this story had all the best elements of those particular books - sisterly devotion, brotherly princes who couldnt be more different, magic and its exploitation, court politics and scheming, with the enchanting lure of a seaside atmosphere. all of these aspects arent new, but somehow this story delivers them in a way that kept me interested.

my one major complaint would be the synopsis is pretty much the entire book. its taking tl;dr to an entirely new level as there is literally nothing else to this story worth mentioning. everything you need to know can be summed up in those few short paragraphs. i get thats what a synopsis is for, but never have i read a story that was missing additional side-plots or surprising new elements. its just a little bit of a downer.

but still, this is a very promising start to what i imagine will be an entertaining series. there is room for growth, but that only means it should get better from here!

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,421 reviews77.6k followers
September 3, 2019
Now Available!

"Sorrow is good for the soul, Father had said after the incident, when I had recovered from the pain and sickness but had still not grown used to the feel of the torn flesh on my otherwise flawless skin. "Those who have never known pain or adversity are as shallow as the waves lapping on the shore."

"And what is wrong with being shallow?" I'd asked him.

"What lies beneath the surface of shallow waters? Nothing. It's only when you go deeper that the ocean comes alive. The deeper you go, the more mysteries and surprises await."

Even though I have a plethora of books on my shelves, as every reader is entitled to *Cough Cough*, I will still venture out to NetGalley to snag an arc of a book that a trusted friend raves about. Crown of Coral and Pearl 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.

"You took two daughters who loved you and turned them into weapons to exact your revenge, never realizing that there was no enemy... Perhaps I am a weapon, a blade honed on your bitterness. And perhaps I have come to stab you in the back."


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.

"Hiding our scars doesn't mean they're not there. Just as beauty cannot disguise who we really are beneath the surface."

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.

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy via NetGalley.
Profile Image for Arini.
696 reviews1,551 followers
November 16, 2020
#1 Crown of Coral and Pearl — 3 Stars
#2 Kingdom of Sea and Stone — 3 Stars

I’m not sure if I should be grateful or disappointed that I managed to get out of this book unscathed. It was enjoyable to read. But the romance left a lot to be desired. I hope the sequel will be worth reading.

Selling Points:

Brilliant depiction of twin relationship
One of the things that this book did get right was how difficult and polarizing siblings relationship could be. Nor and Zadia had opposite personalities. However, it was hard to favor one twin over the other bcs at the core of everything they mirrored one another. I loved seeing how unrelenting their love was.

Solid world building
I loved how intricate it was the two dissecting worlds between the dry land Ilara and the ocean village Varenia. I loved how clashing it was when the two worlds were finally met and experienced through Nor. She slowly discovered the contrast between what she had always thought of the place and the reality she found in Ilara.

Interesting court play and intrigue
There was enough scheming and veiled mysteries in this book to hold your attention. I loved seeing how Nor brought us along in her attempts to save her hometown and learned about the castle and its people, the history behind it, and everything to do with it. These little narratives were engaging and never made for a dull moment in the book.

Malicious beauty pageantry of a sort
The idea of choosing a bride based on looks is not unheard of. At first, it struck me as baffling and utterly ridiculous how these Varenian people think highly of someone based on their beauty. However, this book also showed the harmful side of it. How it turned society against each other and made them shallow and resentful. We can also see how it affected the twins relationship with their mother.

Things you need to watch out for:

Lackluster romance
It was so unsatisfying bcs it was an insta love. There was no build up. No feelings and sparks. For all the disdain Nor feels towards judging people by their appearance, she was instantly smitten by Talin bcs of his “sea blue eyes.” And Talin’s personality was so cardboard cutout.

Contrived ending
It was a deus ex machina! The book ended with some not-so-random but totally uncalled for plot twists that supposedly just fixed everything. What worse is that rather than showing it to us, the resolution part was told through Talin. I’m also annoyed with how the villain was dealt with. I feel like the author did him dirty with the ending.

Read this book if you’re in the mood for some fantasy read by the sea that’s got some great portrayal of unconditional twin sisters love and palace intrigue. Just forget about the bland romance and you shall be fine.
Profile Image for High Lady of The Night Court.
135 reviews5,042 followers
July 12, 2021
Those who have never known pain or adversity are as shallow as the waves lapping on the shore.
And what is wrong with being shallow?
What lies beneath the surface of shallow waters? Nothing. It’s only when you go deeper that the ocean comes alive. The deeper you go, the more mysteries and surprises await.

I will say that I couldn’t have chosen a better book to start the year. It is perfectly paced and I have a feeling that it might be one to help people out of book slump. I can’t wait to read the second one.

It’s a very easy book to start reading, this is not the kind of book you read the first chapter of and put back down because it was too different from the last world your mind is still lingering in. It's very easy going and and fairly straightforward. Those looking to get into a high fantasy-esque series, this is probably not the book for you. The fantasy aspect is definitely present and is very unique, I have not read of a too similar world to this one yet, but it is more subdued and provides an undercurrent to the story but takes a backseat to the character development and world-building, in this first book at least.

If you made it to this review before you read the blurb, I would say you could go either way, read the blurb if you’re someone who is good at guessing what’s going to happen, but some parts might be unexpected so I'm leaving it up to you, don’t if you’re not, you might enjoy a few moments more than others. The blurb does introduce the direction the book is going in and you might want to be surprised with it especially if you’re new to the book community.

For you guys, the book takes place in a society where the most beautiful girl in Varenia is chosen to be the bride of the crown prince and the future queen. This means girls with the potential are pressured to preserve their youth and beauty in every way possible. Nor, our protagonist, and her twin sister Zadie, were frontrunners but an accident in Nor’s youth leaves her scarred and out of the running. All is not what it seems to be in the Ilara, the kingdom currently ruling Varenia, and the girl chosen might have to face an adversary that no one predicted.

I’m the perfect seashell you pick up from the ocean floor, only to turn it over in your hand and see the crack. I’m the fabric with the tear in the seam that you give back to the trader and demand first quality.

The book doesn’t overly focus on the beauty pageant side of things so don’t worry about losing interest because of that. The focus moves on to much more pressing matters of oppression, espionage, and politics.

A lot of books that have societies such as this one, with extreme beliefs tend to have protagonists that provide a sharp contrast to the world fighting against it in every sense but one or two points, and I love those just as much. Here Mara Rutherford was able to find a balance in Nor, a girl who accepted most of her people’s beliefs except the one that gave value to beauty rather than the person behind it. She isn’t your unshakable force of nature or a naive lamb sent to slaughter who later finds her strength.
Nor’s character is of a girl who grew up providing for her family, strong and resilient, but not exempt to fear, sorrow, or jealousy. And there are moments in the book when you see her act out of the goodness of heart even when she shouldn’t, when she chooses to subdue her instinct to rebel to appear proper, and moments where a half baked plan doesn’t play out perfectly and that adds a very realistic, relatable element to the story.

If you haven’t been able to choose which book to start your year off with, I would say you can add this to your list, it is very easy to get through and it is the first part of a duology.
November 10, 2020

”Hiding our scars doesn’t mean they’re not really there. Just as beauty cannot disguise who we really are beneath the surface”.

¡Este es uno de los mejores libros que he leído este año! ¡Ah, por fin! Madre mía, llevaba una racha de leer libros que me dejaban meh, así que ya era hora de que llegara uno como este. Crown of Coral and Pearl es una fantasía que lo tiene todo: un gran mundo, mitología, romance, magia, traiciones y secretos.

Básicamente todo empieza en un pequeño pueblo pescante que se llama Varenia. Allí, la gente es tremendamente pobre y básicamente vive para encontrar las perlas que tanto codicia el reino de Ilara. Además, Varenia tiene la tradición de enviar a su mujer más bella a casarse con el príncipe heredero de Ilara cuando este alcanza la mayoría de edad y, por eso, las varenias cuidan muchísimo su apariencia. En este contexto conocemos a Nor y a Zadie, dos hermanas gemelas bellísimas y que eran idénticas hasta que una de ellas tuvo un accidente. Un día, ambas se sumergieron en busca de perlas y Zadie estuvo a punto de caer en el letal coral de sangre, pero Nor la salvó y la que terminó herida y con una cicatriz en su cara fue ella. Así que nadie se sorprende cuando escogen a Zadie para ser la esposa del príncipe Ceren de Ilara… pero un accidente sucede y, en un giro del destino, es Nor quien tiene que ir hasta el palacio de Ilara y hacerse pasar por su hermana en la corte.

Realmente este es un libro increíble, pues cuando Nor llega a Ilara y conoce por primera vez lo que es vivir en tierra firme y prácticamente dentro de una montaña, va a empezar a enterarse de mil complots, un montón de secretos, la verdad sobre una reina asesinada y, sobre todo, va a ver de primera mano la personalidad monstruosa del príncipe con el que supuestamente tiene que casarse.

Y es que, desde el inicio, cuando la autora nos presenta Varenia con todas sus creencias y su manera de vivir, yo me enamoré del libro. No sé si era el estilo, la forma en la que describía todo o la personalidad de las protagonistas, pero me enganché inmediatamente. Además, algo que me pareció tremendamente interesante fue todo este culto absurdo a la belleza y al ser perfectas. Leerlo era tan absurdo como impresionante, de verdad. Y creo que lo que más me gustó de todo este asunto fue la posición de Nor al respecto.

Ahora, en cuanto a la historia y la tensión, puedo decirles que Crown of Coral and Pearl tiene un balance espectacular entre el worldbuilding, los personajes, los momentos de tensión, el romance, las escenas peligrosas y los giros de trama. Amé que cada página fuera todo un descubrimiento y que en ningún momento nada me aburriera. Todo era necesario y aportaba intriga y tensión a lo que estaba sucediendo. Al igual que Nor, no sabes realmente en quién confiar, sobre todo cuando empezamos a enterarnos de todos los secretos que le ha ocultado Ilara a Varenia durante décadas.

¿Y qué decirles de la tensión romántica? ¡Me fascinó! Creo que la autora tiene clarísimo que este no tiene que ser un libro romántico en sí mismo, pero sabe que la trama gana mucho con esos momentos de incertidumbre, de tensión y de “no sé si quiero matarte o besarte”. De verdad, toda la dinámica entre Nor y Talin me tenía loca. Y realmente todo tiene un desarrollo muy… inquietante, digámoslo así.

Mara Rutherford creó un mundo y unos personajes maravillosos que tejen una trama que no te deja despegarte de las páginas del libro. ¿Y cuando llega el final? Dioses del Olimpo… o Varenia… ¡es espectacular! Literalmente cerré el libro y fui a Amazon a comprar el segundo, así de genial es todo.
Profile Image for Zainab.
381 reviews482 followers
November 16, 2019
Good LORD this was good!
The only downside is that I have to wait a whole year for the next book. That sucks.
It's hard to believe that this is the author's first published book if I'm being completely honest.
I don't think I have to explain what happens in the book because it's kind of clear.
Anyway, the characters! OOF. Talin and Nor are loveable and all but Ceren! The guy is COLD. And I mean cold cold. He is cruel and vile and extremely unloveable and that's exactly what makes the book so damn interesting.
Profile Image for Namera [The Literary Invertebrate].
1,180 reviews2,806 followers
May 1, 2019
I was frightened of the person I was becoming: a woman who lied to everyone, who disrespected her parents, who helped her sister injure herself. A woman who would spy on a king.

A woman who would steal a crown.

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:

1) The romance was absolutely shite.

2) I sympathised with the 'villain' way more than I did with the 'heroes.'

3) The ending was extremely deus ex machina and not worthy of the book at all.

Like I said, the premise really good. Seventeen-year-old Nor (whose name means 'coral') lives in the ocean village of Varenia with her twin sister Zadie ('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 Sami, 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 Prince Ceren, a mercurial and oddly cruel young man. She also meets his half-brother Prince Talin, 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.

Problem #1: The Romance

This was, quite frankly, nothing more than insta-love. 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 destroyed my respect for Nor. 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?

Problem #2: The Villain

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 he was an extremely interesting character and I don't think he was done justice by the author or any of the characters.

Problem #3: The Ending

I obviously can't say too much here, because spoilers. But it was rushed, implausible, and badly-thought-out. It also relied heavily on Nor's character making a U-turn from what it was previously written as.

What I liked:

✔️ 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.

ARC received in exchange for an honest review - thank you!

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Profile Image for ✨ Helena ✨.
365 reviews959 followers
September 12, 2020
This was SO GOOD. I can’t believe that I almost didn’t pick it up because it’s so underrated and under-appreciated. :(

There weren’t as many sea adventures as I’d thought there’d be (considering the cover), but there was a tonne of political intrigue, which I enjoyed. It was like Fable meets Ash Princess, both of which I LOVE.

I was also living for the sisterly dynamics. I love seeing sibling bonds in stories. <3

I’m going to be starting the ARC of the sequel ASAP because I have to know how it ends! This was such an addicting and compelling read that I highly recommend! (Also, I just realised that I read it in under three hours, so it’s a super fast read, haha!)
Profile Image for Lucie V..
999 reviews1,636 followers
February 24, 2022
✅ Sister bond
✅ Characters
✅ World-building
✅ Quick read
🆗 Action
🆗 Predictable plot

3.5 stars

I enjoyed reading this story, it is a quick read, but most of it is very predictable. I was expecting more sea adventure, instead, most of the story takes place in the palace, so it is more about political intrigue.

Beauty is power.

Nor and Zadie are twins living in Varenia, a small village in the ocean. Where they come from, your worth is based on your beauty, because the most beautiful girl in the village has been sent as a bride for the prince of the kingdom for decades now. They were the most beautiful girls in their village until an accident left a small scar on Nor's cheek 7 years ago. Since then, her sister is the prettiest and she is the failure (in their mother's eye). Their mother is despicable, she is not a mean character, but she is so vain and bitter, and she never misses an occasion to make Nor feel like a failure. I hate her, and I hope she will realize how horrible and cruel she was to her own daughter.

Nor and Zadie. Coral and pearl. Powerful and beautiful because of each other, not in spite of each other.

The dynamic between Nor and Zadie is amazing though, their sisterly bond is strong, and they would do anything for each other. Nor always dreamt of leaving their village whereas Zadie dreams of staying there and marrying their only friend, Sami. So it does not come as a surprise that when Zadie is chosen to be sent as a bride to prince Cerenand Nor is promised to Sami, that they find a way to switch place.

“I’ll go. But it will be my body that leaves, and nothing more. Samiel has my heart, and you, dear sister, my soul.”

Most of the story takes place in New Castle where Nor meets her future husband, the cunning and cruel prince Ceren, and his half-brother, the charming and caring prince Talin. As I said, the story is predictable for the most part, the romance is not a surprise, and the political intrigue is also quite simple. The traditional evil (but very clever) prince vying for the crown and fighting against his brother. The two princes did remind me a little of Maven and Cal in the Red Queen series.

There is not much more I can say, I think the summary of the book is quite complete, maybe even too complete, every important piece of the story is mentioned in the summary, so it didn't leave much room for surprise and unexpected twists. Still, the pace is good and Nor and Ceren are well-developed characters, making this book a quick and enjoyable read. I would have like to have more insight on Ceren, he is one of the most interesting characters in this book, but I still can't figure out if he is truly evil, or if he is doing the wrong things for the right reasons, and because he truly cares about his kingdom (and the crown obviously)... He really reminded me of Maven.

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Profile Image for Lu.
157 reviews47 followers
April 25, 2019
I feel like the author googled basic template for fantasy novel and filled them in with details. If you changed some of the character names, and setting this book is so unemarkable it falls into the category of any fantasy novel.
The writing of this book was very basic, it seemed like a 8th grader wrote it. The plot was so basic and bland with most of the actual action happening through DIALOGUE explaining it happening instead of the reader experiencing it themselves. The writing of this book was very difficult to get through and it brought the overall book down.
The characters were also extremely one-dimensional and existed to further the plot nothing more. There was no character development for the hollow shells of humans that were supposed to be characters. The protagonist was EXTREMELY annoying and made me want to pull my hair out. She was a regular shmegular girl but the author attempted to draw her out to be the savior of the people, but she didn’t really do anything? Everyone else did stuff and she would interject here and there but nothing too much.
The relationship in this book made me choke. The protagonist and her love interest spoke FOUR TIMES, I repeat FOUR TIMES in vary brief conversations, and all of a sudden they were in love? Are you kidding me? The author didn’t even try to make it seem like there was anything besides physical attraction and brooding looks behind their oh so amazing love.
Reading the synopsis I knew the book would be a bit basic, but I had no idea it would be as badly written and as basic as it was.
I received this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for ☆she's book obsessed☆.
432 reviews156 followers
December 20, 2020
Crown Of Coral And Pearl

This book surprised me! I had low expectations going into this as I always try to keep away from any details. Ahhh I loved the writing style, it instantly clicked with me. I also loved that the romance was a PART of the plot and not THE plot. It kept me on edge at all times and I enjoyed this read so much! I can't wait to get my hands on the second book😊.
Profile Image for sandeep.
96 reviews70 followers
June 16, 2019
4/5 Stars

”I’m the perfect seashell you pick up from the ocean floor, only to turn it over in your hand and see the crack.”

Thank you, NetGalley and Harlequin Australia, for sending me an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review! :)
Profile Image for Christie«SHBBblogger».
954 reviews1,231 followers
August 27, 2019

Title: Crown of Coral and Pearl
Series: Crown of Coral and Pearl #1
Author: Mara Rutherford
Release date: August 27, 2019
Genre: 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 sought 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.

“Mother was wrong Nor. You have the power to do anything and everything you dream of, more than any person I’ve ever known. And that power, that inner strength, that is what makes you the most beautiful girl in Varenia.”

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.

Varenia, the ocean, even my parents—I could survive without them. But my sister was as essential to me as the sunlight, as the air. I would find a way back to her some day.

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 could 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 Kingdom of Sea and Stone. Snatch this hidden gem up...or should I say pearl? This is an absolute must read!!

Home was not a house, or a village, or a sea. It was family, and love, and the space where your soul could roost, like a seabird safe from a storm.


Profile Image for Carrie.
3,093 reviews1,510 followers
November 12, 2019
Crown of Coral and Pearl by Mara Rutherford is the first book in the new young adult fantasy series by the same name. Seeing as I can be a bit hit or miss when it comes to fantasy series I was actually pleasantly surprised when reading this one by just how much I enjoyed it.

The story begins by building the world in which twins sisters Nor and Zadie have been born and raised. The ocean village of Varenia is a poor one in that is controlled by the royalty in Ilara and in which every member of a family is expected to work to survive. Once a generation however the most beautiful of the village females is chosen to travel to Ilara to marry the prince.

Nor and Zadie as twins were both born beautiful and were considered contenders to be chosen to become the next princess until one day Nor was injured saving her sister leaving a scar upon her cheek. After that Zadie was raised to eventually leave the village but when the time came Zadie was unable to be chosen so Nor ends up in her place.

I would almost like to warn anyone interested in this to not read the whole blurb since it gives away a lot of what is to come. However, not to worry though there will still be plenty to come and one may be warned to watch out for a bit of a triangle and insta-love in case those are bothersome. I actually quite liked Nor and in turn rooted her on in her relationship with Talin so after the end I’ll look forward to rejoining them and the others in the next book and would give this opener 4 1/2 stars.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
Profile Image for Iffat(Taylor's Version).
87 reviews83 followers
July 7, 2021
Got a bowl? Amazing. Now gather the followings:

-America Singer's stubbornness, angstiness, a family to provide, and a wonderful sisterhood bonding from The Selection
- Mare Barrow's
powerful-ness, , and the same points which have been described above from Red Queen
-Jude Duarte's
bravery, bad-assary and amazingness and A TWIN from The Cruel Prince

Do I need to continue? *coughs*basically just insert all the ya-female-protagonist's characters by yourself, thankyou*coughs* Then stir all the things you have in that bowl and TADAAA

*drum rolls*

Ladies and Gentleman, you now have Crown of Coral and Pearl .
But it was still different somehow, stood out for the world-building, actually. I really liked that it was fast-paced and thus was a fun read.

This is where the actual review begins lol

The Plot

“My people had a saying about home, as they did about so many of the important things in life: a Varenian can never be lost at sea, because he calls the entire ocean home.”

Mara Rutherford’s Crown of Coral and Pearl tells the tale of a young girl, Nor, who lives in an ocean village called Varenia. For many years, it has been a tradition for Varenian elders to select the most beautiful maiden in the village to go and marry the royal prince of Ilara.

The time has come for the elders to choose an Ilarean princess from Nor’s generation and everyone in the village knows it will be Zadie, Nor’s twin sister. Although Zadie and Nor look very similar, a tragic accident left Nor scarred and therefore not beautiful enough to represent Varenia in Ilara. So what happens with her journey?

“Hiding our scars doesn't mean they're not really there. Just as beauty cannot disguise who we really are beneath the surface.”

The Characters

Nor and Jadie

“But I was coming to realize that beauty—at least as defined by my people—was more of a burden than a gift.”

Most of the time, our protagonist, Nor bored the crap out of me but I just couldn't help but love her sometimes. Her twin, Zadie gave me MAJOR Taryn vibes but then again, it was enjoyable. The relationship between Nor and Zadie is one of true soulmates. They are the type of sisters who do everything together and love each other unconditionally. One would think the chance of leaving to marry a prince would have driven a wedge between them and caused a rivalry, but nothing of the sort existed.

The sisters did not compete (although there was no need to once Nor was scarred) nor did they resent each other for their circumstances, which I really loved.

“Beauty is power, Mother had told us time and time again, until the words rang as true as the sky is blue and water is wet. I didn’t want to believe that a woman’s worth was entirely defined by her appearance. But there was a small, nagging voice in my head that asked, What if Mother is right?”

Their mother, however, heavily perpetuated the outdated idea that a woman’s worth was wrapped up in her physical beauty and attention from men. The mother’s character was a mirror to the shallow ideas that unfortunately still plague women today in real life.

The princes

“Beware the lionfish, my dear."

Prince Ceren was...okay? idk, I really didn't understand his character. Sometimes, he was a person who is badly in need of someone's love, care, and affection but sometimes, he did not just make sense of anything he did. More importantly, TOO PREDICTABLE.

“I’ve been wanting to do that for ages,” he murmured against my skin. “It’s like a tiny star, marking you as something special for anyone too senseless not to know it.”

Prince Tarin was the biggest MYSTERY of this book. He literally jumped out of nowhere and started loving ~Nor~. I don't ship these two, just don't.


SAMI WAS THE ONLY LOVEABLE PERSON I HAVE FOUND BESIDES Grig and Ebb(though she seemed a robot to me, lol). I really want Sami as my brother/friend now, like asap.

Now, excuse me, I'm running to get the sequel.


My rating system:

★★★★★ — OKAY. I AM DEAD. New OTP, this book has my heart!!
★★★★☆ — I really loved and enjoyed but something was off
★★★☆☆ — It was okay, not a favorite, has several major issues
★★☆☆☆ — Didn’t enjoy or could've been better, very very meh
★☆☆☆☆ — It’s going to be a no for me, probably DNF'd(which is VERY rare cause I usually finish a book no matter what)
Profile Image for Monika Sadowski.
198 reviews50 followers
August 23, 2019
Beautiful fantasy debut for Mara Rutherford. Family values, sisters love, kingdom and the prince. What else do we need? There were few plots and twists which made this book even more interesting. Very well written with good developed characters, right away I got my favorites and figures that I dislike.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for a fair review.
Profile Image for Dark River.
136 reviews61 followers
September 12, 2019
I've had this book on my tbr for a while because the promise of a magical tale involving the sea and a pair of twin sisters with some court intrigue sprinkled in sounded awesome, and I was not let down in that regard. Nor and Zadie love each other so, so much, it's almost palpable through the pages. And that love does not falter, no matter what life throws at them, and no matter how far apart they are. I found that refreshing to read about, same as the vivid description of Varenia and their home amidst the sea in the first half of the book. Simply beautiful. I really felt like I was there; I could almost smell the salty ocean breeze.

Nor is a very likeable heroine, a bit naive sometimes in her choices, but never so much so that it would have bothered me. I greatly enjoyed her POV to be honest.
What I would have liked as well is some more development for both of the princes. As it stands, I don't really care much for either of them.
Ceren was more interesting to me, because there were moments that showed layering to his character, and I would have enjoyed to explore that further. And Talin .. well, I don't really feel like I know Talin that well. Which could go in either direction tbh; I'm hoping for a couple surprises in the next book, but I'm not sure how likely that is.
I'm not mad though; I didn't really get the feeling that this story tried to focus so much on the romantic aspects - seemed more like the side quest so to speak, and that's completely fine. In itself it is not something I'd like to see changed at all actually; this isn't the boys' story. Just some more background for them would have been interesting, but I do prefer for the focus to stay on Nor's family, her people, and the politics and history of Varenia and Ilaria.

I've been flip-flopping about what to rate this book until the very last minute (still kind of am tbh). The story flows wonderfully; it's a quick read, probably something that can be devoured in one sitting if that's what you feel like, because it sure does not get boring. But I feel like I need the rest of the story to put this into context and find the right rating. So for now it's 3/5 stars, with the potential to be raised to 4/5.
Overall a well-rounded story with likeable characters, a sweet sibling relationship and interesting world-building. Just maybe a tad bit too predictable in certain aspects to woo me completely.

Sidenotes: - I switched between reading my kindle version and listening to the audio book (which I purchased on my own) when I was on the go, and I can highly recommend the latter as well. The narrator is fantastic.
- Even with some questions unanswered and me knowing there will be a sequel (that I will most certainly read!), I believe this can very well be read as a standalone tale if you want to. There is no huge cliffhanger, the ending is just hopeful and open enough to allow you to imagine how it continues yourself, or wait for the next book. Both works in my opinion.

**I received an e-copy of Crown of Coral and Pearl from Harlequin through netgalley.com
Opinions are my own
Profile Image for Ashlee » libraryinthecountry.
772 reviews632 followers
September 6, 2021
Wow. This is one of the best YA fantasy books I’ve read in years and honestly, I am a little disappointed that it isn’t talked about more!

I feel like this is going to be one of those raving reviews where I just talk and talk and talk about all of the positive aspects of this book … and it would be accurate to do that because there isn’t much that I didn’t enjoy!

There is a heavy romance subplot and I’ll be honest, at times I wasn’t sure where I wanted it to go. Okay, okay, actually I did. But damn, Mara Rutherford had me conflicted and section guessing myself a times! I really feel as those one of Mara’s strengths in this is writing nuanced and complicated characters, who have distinct positive and negative qualities. That said, I was totally invested in the romance of this book and am more than happy with where it’s gone!

The world building, as well as well as history/mythology in this book is fleshed out nicely and fully realized. Sometimes there will be grey areas in fantasy, where the world building is lacking and your mind is like “OKAY BUT WHY?”, however I didn’t feel that at all in this book. The mythology is closely tied to the world building and I feel as though Mara did a fantastic job of making sure readers have a good grasp of things before we loose ourselves in the story.

Needless to say, I highly recommend this book and am looking forward to reading the sequel!
Profile Image for Nana .
1,201 reviews36 followers
November 28, 2020
I loved it and devoured it.

Crown of Coral and Pearl by Mara Rutherford is a fantastic YA fantasy.

The atmosphere of this is so amazing, and I connected so fast with the protagonist.

✔ An original world.
✔ Castles.
✔ Royalty.
✔ Strong family ties.
✔ Strong female lead.
✔ Intrigues.

Romance is not much of the central theme of the story, but I definitely liked the way it was being constructed.

I really enjoyed this, and after that ending, I went to read the next one right away.
Oh and that cover, I love it.

Si, I finished reading it a few days ago, but since I was reading the other one, I waited to do the reviews the same day.
August 8, 2019
“You’d really risk everything for some servant boy? His life is worth nothing compared to yours.”
“My life is worth nothing if I ever believe that.”

I received an ARC of Crown of Coral and Pearl at BookCon, this in no way impacts my review. However, my review is based on an unfinished and uncorrected copy, please note that the story and quotes may differ from the final book. I’ll keep this review as spoiler-free as possible.

The third book of my '10 books in 3 weeks' project

4.5 stars

Seventeen-year-old Nor grew up in Varenia, an isolated village on the ocean. The Varenian are forbidden to set foot on land and rely on the sea for all their life aspect. They swim from stilt house to stilt house or they sometimes use boats, they live for and thanks to the sea, taking from it but also giving back to it. 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 closer to the danger of the deadly blood corals that are giving the pearls their colour and proprieties. 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, every generation the most beautiful girl of Varenia is chosen and send to Ilara to wed the Prince and becoming the next Queen, 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. For Nor, this scar is both a blessing and a malediction. 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.
“I often consoled myself with the fact that if I didn’t have my scar, Zadie and I would have spent our lives competing with each other. The idea of viewing my sister as an obstacle, rather than my best friend, was unthinkable.”

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. Zadie is willing to go desperate lengths stay home with her lover, her family and the sea. 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, the leaders have no other choice than sending Nor, with a pot of cream to hide her scar, under the guise of being Zadie to take her place as upcoming Queen. 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 blown away by the world-building 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 I was in awe in front of the descriptions, the legends and the culture of Varenia. 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 there was nothing missing to make me feel like I lived there as well.
“I took a few moments to slow my heart rate down as well as my breathing. Staying underwater for long periods of time required concentration and calm. […] I filled my lungs with air and dived, this time a little farther to the left of the blood coral, which was surrounded by nothing but bones. Even the fish knew to stay away from it.”

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. I love how the sun was associated with health and longevity whereas the people living inside the dark castle looked tired, aged and weak. 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 the ending that I found rushed and a bit deus-ex-machina, and the insta-love that drastically diminished the impact of this book’s message for me. 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 the pristine exploitation of the twin bound. 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. Nor and Zadie had polar personalities and yet were two sides of the same coin. 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:
“Nor and Zadie. Coral and Pearl.
Powerful and beautiful because of each other, not in spite of each other.”
“If I were prettier, it meant she was uglier, and a compliment at my sister’s expense was no compliment at all.”
“You have been everything for me,” she said, her voice thick with emotion. “My arms when I wasn’t permitted to row, my legs when I wasn’t permitted to dive. My lips when I couldn’t defend myself from Mother. Now I need you to be my hands, Nor.”
“Ebb has suggested cutting [my hair] to make it more manageable, but I wouldn’t allow more than a trim. I knew that Zadie would never cut her hair, and I didn’t want to look different from my sister. My reflection in the mirror would be the only way I had to watch her grow old.”
Profile Image for Elly.
Author 9 books1,964 followers
February 1, 2018
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!
Profile Image for Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer.
1,512 reviews5 followers
August 20, 2019
Check out more reviews @ Perspective of a Writer...

The Buzz

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.

The Premise

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!

“You have been everything for me,” she said, her voice thick with emotion. “My arms when I wasn’t permitted to row, my legs when I wasn’t permitted to dive. My lips when I couldn’t defend myself from Mother. Now I need you to be my hands, Nor.”

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!

My Experience

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.

Questions to ponder as you read… Crown of Coral and Pearl

-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

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. It has not influenced my opinions.

You can find this review and many others on my book blog @ Perspective of a Writer. Read my special perspective under the typewriter on my reviews...

Please like this review if you enjoyed it! *bow* *bow* It helps me out a ton!!
Profile Image for Sol ~ TheBookishKing.
303 reviews178 followers
July 25, 2019
This is so fun, and unique and I completely love this! I don’t read very much YA Fantasy any more and this one is just so easy to read and fly through! I’m just going to go over some plot and some key points that really made this stand out for me.



In this world, one beautiful girl is chosen from the village of Varenia to become the wife of the Prince of Ilara. Now, of course, there isn’t a set time of year this happens, it’s just every time there’s a new prince. Nor and her sister Zadie are the daughters of the runner up for the prettiest girl for the current King. Their mother is bitter and wants one of her daughters to be picked for the current prince, Ceren. Everyone knows Zadie is going to be picked, there’s no doubt about it, only because Nor was in an accident when she was younger and her face is scarred.

But of course, things don’t go as planned, Zadie ends up severely injured and Nor has to take her place as upcoming Queen. She ends up meeting Prince Talin, Cerens brother, and this truly changes a lot for her. Nor has feelings for her soon to be husbands brother, and this complicates a lot of things. So really there’s a lot of relationship issues, political issues, and a sort of mystery on a dead queen.

What I Enjoyed:

I pretty much devoured this whole book in two days. It’s so easy to read, the story flows so well, and by the time it ended I was ready to have book two in my hands. The characters themselves are fleshed out so well, even though this is a first-person told story. I think it’s hard a lot of the time to get a general sense of surrounding characters because you’re in the Main Characters head 24/7, but that isn’t the case in this book.

Nor wants more from life. She wants to see her people prosper and thrive and that is exactly what her mind is on 24/7. Nor is never too worried about finding love or finding happiness, even though when it does present itself, she doesn’t hesitate to snatch it right up while STILL keeping her goal in mind.

I personally ended up loving Prince Ceren much more than I expected. He’s got a lot of issues of course, very controlling but I think at the very core he just wants love and to be a better person than who he was raised to be. He is a crazy scientist boy who I wish would have put his energies else but nonetheless, I really like his character.

Prince Talin is Cerens brother and just so happens to play a very large role in this story. Nor really likes him a lot, he’s half Varenian, and he is also really interested in Nor. But he knows a lot of the castle secrets and Nor tries to get closer to him to figure out this mystery man, but there is also an undeniable spark between them.

Now I’m not the biggest Love Triangle fan, because it’s always so easy to figure out who the MC will be with, but this one doesn’t handle this situation like a Love Triangle. It’s very apparent from the start that Ceren is the villain of this story and I liked that a lot. It seems like there isn’t a lot of plot here but I’m not trying to spoil anything, because this story goes by so fast.

One more thing that I love SO MUCH about this book is that Varenia is a water kingdom, and I’m such an ocean nerd that I loved their people so much. There’s a lot of talk about the sea and ocean creatures and parallels between life and the water. My Marine Biologist Heart was thriving.

The ending of this TRULY shocked me so much, and I cannot WAIT for the sequel!

If you’re looking for a super fun fast fantasy novel, I definitely recommend checking this out when it releases on August 27th.

I hope y’all have a great day/night, and Happy Reading!

~ Sol
Profile Image for Melanie (mells_view).
1,698 reviews323 followers
August 27, 2019
... be careful and cautious with your heart, for things are not always what they seem.

Ok. So I liked the majority of this book. I like the world that was built. The beautiful yet poor sea village of Varenia. The simplicity of Ilara that felt brand new being seen through Nor’s eyes. The cold and dark yet rich mountain of New Castle. The royal court and how corrupt and mysterious it was. Our heroine not knowing who to trust in the new land she’s navigating.

I liked the characters that were presented. Nor and Zadie’s twin sister relationship isn’t new to YA fantasy, but it did feel like it’s own. The contrast in their relationship versus the one between Talin and Ceren. The author did a good job presenting the world and the characters. The story is good. It definitely had me turning pages and wanting to read every possible second that I could. I loved how most things started to unfold and make sense. There is another book, and the ending to this one definitely has many things resolve, but also leaves a few open ended. So it will be interesting to see where the next book takes us.

All that being said, I did have some issues with the story, and that’s why it’s only getting three stars from me. I had a bit of an issue with the author TELLING me things instead of showing them to me. For a book that essentially hammers in the message about beauty not being everything I need the “bad guy” to be labeled as such from his actions not his first appearance. Also. If you’re going to add romance, then I need it to be built up. I need the romancing couple to actually have more than a page of dialogue before they fall in love. Maybe that’s personal preference but. Also, the ending was a bit weak for me at points. Don’t get me wrong I plan to read the next book, because I want to know what is going on with all the open ended plots, BUT it fell a little flat for me. Also I would have loved a bit of a tease of what’s to come. I think the author makes it pretty obvious that things aren’t all what they seem, so I’m a little sad that our heroine didn’t hold that mind set.

All in all. This was still a great story. I’m probably being picky about my dislikes, but I was digging the story so much, and I was a smidge let down by some of the things I mentioned. I do have confidence that the next one will be just as much of a page-turner though.

^fan edit on IG!

*ARC provided by NetGalley
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,112 reviews215 followers
September 20, 2019
I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Spoilers below.

Crown of Coral and Pearl was a lot of fun to dive into. In it, you will meet Zadie and Nor. Twin sisters that live in a place where beauty gives you status (in a way). Now these two definitely had their ups and downs. Nor was in an accident when she was younger, an accident that ended up saving her sister's life. Yet, since that day she lost value in her own mother's eyes. It was okay though because Zadie and her dad both adored her.

Now I loved Nor. Heck, I liked Zadie but she wasn't my absolute favorite. At one point, I kind of felt like she was a bit selfish. I get that she found love in her hometown but all the girls knew that they could be the chosen one to marry the crown prince. Yeah, it sucked ass for her that she was picked but she put her life at risk just so that she could get out of it.

Plus, I don't like how their own mother treated Nor. Ugh, if I could pick any book to reach into and slap a character - this one would be it. I hope in the next book her mother realizes how much of a twat she was. I'm also a bit intrigued as to what is going to happen. I definitely have a feeling that things aren't going to go Nor's way. Even though Talin is with her, which they are so freaking cute! I totally ship them and want them to be together in the next one.. but I have a feeling his mom is going to pull them apart.

Ugh, I need the next book ASAP!
Profile Image for julia ☆ [owls reads].
1,520 reviews303 followers
December 1, 2020
1.5 stars.


Like I said in one of my status updates, Crown of Coral and Pearl was...empty of everything. The premise was pretty generic to begin with, but I had hopes that Rutherford would be able to transform it into an intriguing YA Fantasy novel. Sadly, the writing style and plot development lacked emotion and careful thought.

The world-building was okay, if a little underdeveloped for my reading tastes, and it was interesting to read about two cultures clashing when Nor got sent off to marry the prince. That wasn't explored all that much, though, and nothing else about the book managed to capture my attention. I guess because the writing was so very stiff and basic.

I also really didn't like Zadie and the relationship she and Nor had. I do believe Rutherford was trying to portray a deep and loving sisterly bond between them, but the writing didn't convince me one bit of that and the way Zadie acted and treated Nor just made her seem really self-centered and selfish while Nor seemed passive and resigned. All of the characters, in general, weren't well developed. I'd say Zadie and Nor had more of a personality because we spent the beginning of the book with them, but the other characters, romance interest and villain included, were one-dimensional.

Because of this, neither the romance nor the final twists had any impact on me. The romance was actually a really big case of instalove, even more so because the two characters didn't have that many interactions throughout the novel for feelings to develop. And the supposed mystery conspiracy political plot and the twists that came from that didn't seem to be well planned and they weren't well developed. They just existed and happened when they had to happen? I guess because the book needed some sort of conflict that didn't come from the romance.

I didn't like this and pretty much nothing about it worked for me. I won't be continuing with the series.


Series: #1 in Crown of Coral and Pearl series.
POV: Told from Nor's POV.
Content Warnings:
Love Triangle:
Cliffhanger: No.
Up Next: Kingdom of Sea and Stone.
Profile Image for Joan He.
Author 6 books7,073 followers
January 3, 2018
longer review tk BUT GUYS THIS BOOK IS AMAZING (as is Mara) and will delight anyone who loves a good twin relationship, ocean-aesthetics, and complex villains <333
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