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432 pages, Hardcover
First published August 27, 2019
#1 Crown of Coral and Pearl — 3 Stars
#2 Kingdom of Sea and Stone — 3 Stars
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.
Beauty is power.
“I’ll go. But it will be my body that leaves, and nothing more. Samiel has my heart, and you, dear sister, my soul.”
“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.”
“Hiding our scars doesn't mean they're not really there. Just as beauty cannot disguise who we really are beneath the surface.”
“But I was coming to realize that beauty—at least as defined by my people—was more of a burden than a gift.”
“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?”
“Beware the lionfish, my dear."
“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.”
“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 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.”
“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.”
“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.”