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The False Princess

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Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia's led a privileged life at court.  But everything changes when it's revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection.  Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she's ever known.

Sinda is sent to live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. She is a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, and Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks.  But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins - long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control - she realizes that she can never learn to be a simple village girl.

Returning to Vivaskari for answers, Sinda finds her purpose as a wizard scribe, rediscovers the boy who saw her all along, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor's history, forever.

319 pages, Hardcover

First published January 25, 2011

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About the author

Eilis O'Neal

4 books359 followers
Eilis is a writer of fantasy and the Managing Editor of the literary magazine Nimrod International Journal. She started writing at the age of three (though the story was only four sentences long). Her short fantasy has been published in various print and online journals, and you can find links to some of her stories here. Eilis was born, raised in, and currently lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,770 reviews
Profile Image for Vinaya.
185 reviews2,092 followers
March 23, 2011
I hereby declare that people should stop reading so many YA paranormals and begin to read YA fantasy! The genre has some really good literature that is slipping under the radar thanks to multi-million dollar deals about flowers and demi-gods. Pish!

Eilis O'Neal's The False Princess interested me from the day I first read the blurb for the book. I finally managed to get my hands on a copy, and it's lived up to my expectations. Plot, writing characterization — they were all up to the mark, and the thing I really liked about this book? It's a stand-alone. No threads are left hanging, in the hope of a multi-book deal, and for a change, I finally got to read a book with a satisfying ending!

Nalia discovers on her sixteenth birthday that she is not the crown princess of Thorvaldor, as she has been told all her life. A prophecy made to the king and queen upon their daughter's birth foretold that the princess would be killed before her sixteenth birthday. In order to avert this dire fate, they decide to hide their child and secretly replace her with a baby from a common family. Thus Sinda, the replacement baby, became Nalia and lived a lie for sixteen years.

Sinda is sent away from the palace almost immediately after being told the truth. She goes to live with her aunt, a dyer, who is unprepared to make place in her life for a niece who has been bred in luxury. But even as Sinda resigns herself to her fate and tries to fit in in the small village, she discovers that she may not be entirely insignificant after all. The beginnings of strong magical power sends her back to the capital Vavaskari, where she ends up becoming a scribe to an eccentric Master wizard. She also reunites with her best friend, Kiernan, and it is this reunion that changes Sinda's life yet again, as she discovers that things at the palace may not be so cut-and-dried after all.

The mystery parts of this story were well-handled. From Sinda's initial discovery to the hunt for the culprit and the eventual confrontation with the baddie, the story moves smoothly and quickly. But although the mystery is one of the important elements of the story, it is not the crux of it. This book is a chronicle of Sinda's growth from a pampered but submissive princess to a strong, confident young woman.

What I liked about Sinda is that she wasn't always the easiest of characters. Like every normal person, she has uncharitable thoughts, she loses her temper on occasion, she feels insecure and unworthy, especially since she has lost her entire identity. But although she managed to irritate me at points, I never disliked her. She's a perceptive, introspective character who doesn't mind taking a good, hard look at her own flaws, and this was something that made her journey towards self-realization a lot more meaningful.

The relationship between Sinda and Kiernan felt a little unequal to me; I guess it always happens in a story where one character knows much sooner than the other that they are in love. There were too many points where Sinda seemed to be taking advantage of Kiernan's love for her, without ever acknowledging that it was there. But eventually, when she had to go to him, I think the balance was sort-of redressed.

I felt like I would have liked the interpersonal relationships in this story to be a little more elaborate. The queen sent away the child she had reared for sixteen years, but received in her place the child she had borne. It would have been amazing if we'd gotten a glimpse into her life, and how she reacted to the situation. Most of Sinda's relationships, except possibly that with her aunt, are lightly touched upon; the complex undertones that ought to underlie such relationships are missing, leaving a void.

The False Princess, for me, was not a WOW! book. I liked it, a LOT, but I wasn't blown away by it. But I would definitely recommend it as being worth a read, especially for people who like character-driven fantasy.
Profile Image for Erin.
232 reviews103 followers
April 29, 2015
It was very, very difficult for me to rate this book. Before even opening it, my expectations were at a 3-star level. The first hundred pages or so were super enjoyable, so I started raising it to the 4 range. But after that my interest almost completely disappeared. I was debating between 2 and 3 stars, but as you can see I went with three.

Well, that was an interesting anecdote. If you can't tell, I am not exactly thrilled to be writing this review. When books don't elicit much of a response from me (3 stars is pleasant but bland), I don't have much to say. But I will do my best! Yawn.

The plot synopsis is nice. It is exactly what sucked me in, it is so intriguing, isn't it? I bet if you scrolled up and read it your interest was piqued too. The cover's pretty decent too, in a girly way. I had a dream about this book before I read it. Life was good.

So. Anyway. The main character-- I guess her name is Sinda, I could never remember it-- has an awkward moment when she's told that, surprise, she's not really the princess. She's a nobody. After receiving this crappy news she's given roughly ten minutes to mope and then BAM!, is kicked out of the palace. So basically, her kingly and queenly parents are stupid douchers.

My absolute favorite part of the book was immediately after her exile from the palace. She's sent to live with her very surprised aunt, who tries to make a place for Sinda but still isn't that glad to have her. I thought the relationship with her aunt was interesting stuff. Even moreso was her budding friendship-romance with village boy Tyr. Man did I love that part. Her best buddy for-evahh from the palace, Kiernan, shows up to check on things, and the joy she felt when she saw him was so palpable that I read the entire page with a stupid grin on my face before I even noticed I was doing it.

It's around this time that Sinda discovers yet ANOTHER surprise about herself... she's magical! Magic is wasted on all the wrong people, man. If I found out I could wave my arms around and conjure flowers or whatever, I would be crazy happy. Sinda just has a sad. Whatevs, Sinda! Pffft.

So yeah, she decides to go a-wandering into the big city to be taught how to control her magic, and that's where the real plot takes off and I can't really say much else for fear of spoilage. Just know that this subsequent plot is the kind that looks really interesting in summary form but in reality felt uninspired. I mean, it held my interest for most of the time. But I never, and I mean NEVER, felt that exhilarating feeling of ohhhmygosh-I-must-find-stuff-out-NOW. It's sad I'm reading this now, because I think that maybe if I read this at age eleven I would have loved it. Too bad.

In summary, the best aspect of the book was the friendship between Sinda and Kiernan, I was really able to feel their connection. Most of the other stuff was just... blah. It wasn't a negative reaction, just an apathetic one. Ho hum, I guess I'll turn the page now.

This is pretty much the longest review ever for one I didn't know what to say in, by the way.

Oh! And one last thing. A quote I liked. (Obviously it was in the first 100 pages, cause I liked it...) It's right after she's sent to live with her aunt, once she's told she's not the real princess:

I awoke the next morning knowing exactly where I was. No moment of confusion, no thought that I was still in my bed in the palace. Even before I opened my eyes, I knew what had happened and where I was.

BOOM. Take that, stupid over-used cliche! She woke up and wasn't confused! See, it's possible to do that after a shocking event!

Maybe I'll reread this in a few years and be in a better mental place for enjoying its merits. For now, I gotta say BLAHHHH.
Profile Image for Krystle.
913 reviews335 followers
May 16, 2012
4.5 stars.

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a really long time. Why? It has everything I like: magic, courtly intrigues, a slow burn romance, and a fairy tale touch.

What really struck me was how this book emulates the fairy tale of Cinderella. It follows the same plot trajectory being that someone goes from a position of status and wealth to one of a lower class and then finally balance is re-established once again when she rises up to her original level of superiority. What everyone really forgets about the Cinderella fairy tale is that in the many written origin sources is that Cinderella (or her other names) starts off from a position of wealth and in many tales she’s either from nobility or royalty. I think this makes a very interesting parallel in this book.

I really liked the characters in here. Sinda is so conflicted but never slips into the morose or overly sulky. She has to deal with having her identity ripped away from her and then trying to remake a new one for herself, but also a detachment from a place of comfort she called home and the rejection of her supposed family members and also her actual ones. Yet, while she is gifted with special magical abilities, it’s never abused and always involves effort at mastering.

She tries so hard to prove to herself and others that she isn’t some worthless ploy to be tossed away when her usefulness has ended, and wants everyone to know that she is someone of value and that they should feel a great amount of regret and remorse at what they did.

I love Kiernan! He’s such a loyal friend who is always kind and while not necessarily scholarly inclined, he is quick on his thoughts and is willing to learn. I like that while he is outgoing and charismatic he does get emotionally hurt and shows it. Quite different compared to some other male leads that either brush it off like it’s nothing or keep their stoic exterior. It’s not bad to have your romance interest show some vulnerability, it makes them a lot more likeable and realistic in my opinion.

The romance was excellent. I always thought being friends with someone and knowing their quirks, vices, and character before entertaining the idea of entering a relationship with them is very prudent. This is why I enjoyed it here. The characters actually know each other and when their new feelings for each other start to show, they show it in more subtle and gradual ways rather than an all-consuming attraction and need. I totally loved how Kiernan did not care about her social standing and would be willing to make sacrifices to be with her – not like some YA males we know, in which the girl has to do everything to be with their partner.

While certain plot devices or twists are a bit predictable, it still is fun. I really enjoyed seeing Sinda be so forward thinking and set out to solve the mystery behind the princess switch ups and not have things suggested to her beforehand. The pacing might have been a bit slow in the beginning but it really picks up at the halfway mark, or slightly earlier than that.

This is a fantastic debut novel. The ending was one of most satisfactory wrap ups I’ve read in a novel in a while. I’ll say that if you liked Crown Duel or Brightly Woven, you’ll definitely enjoy this one.
Profile Image for ~Tina~.
1,092 reviews159 followers
September 30, 2015
Imagine your life. Imagine the people in it, where you live, how you live. Now, how would you feel if it was all one big lie? Everything you are...your not. And you are just send away from everything you hold dear to a life you know nothing of.
The False Princess is a story about exactly that. False. Nalia was a princess for sixteen years and then one day she gets told that it was a set up and the true princess is coming home and she gets dismissed just like that. Only till she's away from the palace does she discover something she didn't even know she possessed....

That was only a little bit of what happens in this book, there is just so much more, and I want readers to experience it first hand. Simply put? This my friends, is a really great book!
Fantastically written. I'm surprised this is Eilis O'Neal debut, but what an amazing start.
I was mesmerized throughout the whole story and quickly sympathize with our MC. Nalia/Sinda went through a whirlwind of emotions from being lonely, hurt, defensive and betrayed to being able to find a place within her self and use that power. I loved the twist in this book, it was very unpredictable and I loved seeing where this would go. But most of all I loved the relationship-built in this one. There is nothing I love more then a sweet bubbling romance between friends. So much better then the instant romance we see now a days, which mind you I still like, but this was so much sweeter.
Sinda and Kiernan made me smile. A lot!

Basically I loved this book. It's such a great fantasy escape, fit for any fans who are looking for a fun journey and want to meet some awesome characters . I'm definitely going to be keeping an eye out for O'Neal's books in the future! Loved it
Profile Image for Gavin.
886 reviews398 followers
August 11, 2015
Princess Nalia is given the shock of her life on her 16th birthday when the King and Queen of Thorvaldor inform her that she is not actually the princess Nalia, but a false princess who was raised in place of the true princess to counter a dire prophecy that threatened the life of the princess before her 16th birthday. Nalia, now known by her real name Sinda, is cast out of the palace and sent to live with her aunt in the country.

With the spells that made the world believe she was Nalia removed Sinda discovers that they have also been repressing a talent for magic in her own blood. Which proves to be a problem as she has no idea how to control these wild new powers. After failing to adapt to country life she decides to return to the Capital and seek entry to the college of magic. While there she reconnects with her lifelong friend Kiernan and discovers a secret conspiracy that might threaten the throne of Thorvaldor.

I quite enjoyed this story. It did not have a fast pace, but that actually worked out well as both the mystery and the romance benefited from the slow build. The mystery was interesting and even managed to pose a few moral quandaries for Sinda that helped her grow as a person. The romance was a good one. Sinda and Kiernan were life long friends and it took them a little bit of time to acknowledge the fact that things had changed in their relationship, which I liked.

Sinda was a likable character, who had a few flaws, and she was easy to root for. As well as the conspiracy surrounding the royal family she also had to deal with her growing feelings for Kiernan as well as trying to find a new place in life after her full childhood and everything she believed about herself was revealed to be a lie. The rest of the characters were equally well drawn. Kiernan was no superhero, but he was a likable guy who genuinely seemed to like Sinda for who she was as a person rather than as who she had been as a princess. The villains had believable motivations driving them to their actions.

As this was a standalone novel the story had a proper conclusion. My feelings for the ending are a bit mixed due to its bittersweet nature, but it definitely fit the story.

Rating: 3.5 stars.

Audio Note: Mandy Williams did a decent job with the audio narration.
Profile Image for nitya.
385 reviews277 followers
August 22, 2021
The ending felt a bit anticlimactic imo. I did appreciate the bff to lovers trope in this ❤️ I only wish there was more world building; so much was left unexplained.

At least this cured my book hangover/slump!
Profile Image for Lissa.
Author 19 books176 followers
June 4, 2012
The False Princess is a reverse Cinderella story, or, if you like, a Cinderella story. It can work both ways. Sinda’s nobility and heritage, her rank, wealth, and everything she identifies with is stripped from her and she must start from absolutely nothing and work her way back up to prestige and respect. This is because she’s cast out of royalty after spending sixteen years as a stand-in princess while the real girl was in hiding, to save her from a horrific prophesised death.

I liked Sinda, for the most part. I found her easy acceptance understandable, if a little disparaging. She is not, at first, a strong character. But that’s okay, because on her journey, she learns and adapts and changes. It also made sense for her to have the big stranglehold over her magic, and I was always hoping she might improve just a little bit faster – but that’s not the point. I also liked her rare slow-burning romance with Kiernan.

Kiernan is a sweet enough guy, but at first I’d hoped he and Sinda would remain plutonic. Yet slowly, as the friendship developed, and things that had been an obstacle before no longer mattered, I became a fan of their relationship. Sinda’s need to still feel important led to many mistakes and problems with her communication with Kiernan, and she made some pretty bad choices: but this is a good thing! Bad choices are awesome: they create conflict. I don’t mean stupid choices, I simply mean bad judgement. Sinda wasn’t stupid, and neither was Kiernan. They were simply two teenagers learning how to communicate in a relationship. I quite liked their slow-bloom.

Mika and Orianne were also two pretty awesome characters. I loved Mika’s constant comparison to a fox: she was also quite abrasive, and not easily trusting. I really liked this about her – it lent a very nice difference to Oriannce, who seemed like the sweetest, most innocent thing. Of course, the stark differences to the girls was important to the plot, as were Kiernan’s feelings towards them.

Aunt Varil and Philantha seemed to both fill the same role, but in vastly different ways. Whereas Varil was unfriendly and unwelcoming, and thought Sinda was useless, Philantha saw the real Sinda, and loved her for it in her own peculiar way. I loved reading Philantha scenes – I was always looking forward to the next one. She was so funny in her oddness, and her speech was unique within the novel. I’d love to meet someone like Philantha in real life.

As for the magic in the world: it was quite simple to understand. Either you’re born with the gift, or you’re not. You can be trained either way, but there is only so far one can progress – like singing. I liked that comparison, because I’m a singer. The luck of the draw did annoy me a little, because Sinda had already been a speshul snow flake by being a princess for sixteen years, and then all of a sudden when the identity spell is lifted there’s all this magic in her as well. I loved the reason of the magic exposing itself as well: it just needs to get out and be used.

I think the only issue I really had with the book was the choice of narration. There were a few times later in the novel where we got stuck in Sinda’s head as she considered all her options for quite a few pages. It didn’t quite gel with me, but I’m sure some other people would like that. There were also some cases where interesting events were summarised, but I think that was done for the sake of word count. It wasn’t a case of ‘build up the next scene to make it so totally awesome then make all the action offstage’ a la Linger…

I really loved the plot. Once the mystery was revealed, I was racing along with Sinda to try and figure out the answer. However, I got there a lot earlier than Sinda did, and spent the rest of my time second-guessing myself. It became obvious to me after a few references of the same thing. I suppose that’s foreshadowing, and it can’t be helped. And I really loved the villain’s motivation! I totally could not see logic in it at all , but that’s the way I am with a few real life people, too!

It was still pretty damn good. It’s a really great court intrigue high fantasy novel and I really enjoyed it. I’ll be looking for Ms O’Neal’s future books as well.
Profile Image for Nafiza.
Author 6 books1,239 followers
October 25, 2015
Fairy tales are wondrous. They offer us a look into a world that we aspire to. They show us possibilities and tell us that dreams can come true. Well, they also perpetuate gender assimilation in children and are one of the very first ways children learn culture (and the English Lit student in my is obliged to point out at this juncture that fairy tales really aren’t as harmless as they are portrayed). What does this all have to do with The False Princess, you ask me? Well, The False Princess is a Cinderella story in reverse and one of the most empowering novels I have read to date. Stick with me and I shall count the ways (and whys) I love this book.

Imagine having the floor swept away from you. Imagine being told that the person you thought you were is not not who you are. If that’s not confusing to you, well, you don’t have much in common with our heroine. She does not just lose her home, her parents, her friends but also her very identity: her name. She’s no longer Nalia. She is now Sinda. Not the crown princess but an orphan – a dyer’s niece. And now that her purpose in life has been taken away (to be Queen) Sinda fast realizes that not only does she not have an identity, she also does not have a set of skills that she can use to survive in a world which has very quickly turned hostile. And then she discovers her magic…

I like Sinda. She could have been so easily been an annoying character, immersed in her melodramatic life and at the cruel turns of fate but she wasn’t. Ms. Neal writes a heroine who is cognizant of her unfolding fate and instead of remaining static throughout the novel, she evolves and is changed by the things she experiences during the course of her journey. The way her sense of betrayal and subsequent lashing out at Keirnan is realistically portrayed. I also appreciated the careful removal of any sentimentality that might have coloured her relationship with her aunt.

I feel like I must also mention the relationships between the girls. So often in novels I read, the girls are either somehow inferior to the protagonist (in which case, they are given the title of “the best friend”) or superior (in terms of beauty in which case they will be The Enemy). In The False Princess, Ms. Neal imbues each girl with their own set of qualities that do not clash with the protagonists in such a way that the readers need to prove who the better woman is. They also manage to forge a relationship between themselves that is refreshing. The love interest is really sweet and let’s face it, I’m a sucker for guys who know when to back off.

The plot is fast paced at times and honeyed at others – the story knows when to move fast and when to stroll and there was never a moment that I felt I needed to skip ahead or read slower. The supporting cast of characters are all carefully developed and feel like real people instead of cardboard cutouts from the Store of Side Characters.

The False Princess is a story about a girl who realizes that it is not necessary to be a princess to be happy. A girl who loses everything and then regains everything she lost. A girl who learns that family is something one can make for herself. That fairy godmothers and pumpkins can only take you so far. That the real magic resides inside of you.

This is an explosive debut and I am looking forward to reading whatever Ms. Neal comes up with next.
Profile Image for Emmy.
926 reviews147 followers
February 11, 2016
I think maybe this was just too young adult for me because the only thing that jumps to my mind about this book is the word "juvenile." Or maybe I'm just getting old. Never did the idea of a 16 year old girl saving an entire race/kingdom/etc appear more absurd to me than in this book. I just didn't particularly like anyone and I didn't particularly believe any of them. And I just got bored.
Profile Image for Grace Zhao.
91 reviews
April 25, 2016
Over all it is an enjoyable light read that that really doesn't make you think too much. HOWEVER, there are a few things that bothers me. Warning: spoilers.

First of all, I find her reaction to finding out that she is not the princess too toned down. Sure, she was depressed and unhappy in the book but that was it. She did not go through a period of denial or make a scene (which would have been understandable) and that was simply justified because she was a docile and rule abiding girl. However, her personality is similar to mine and with a little imagination, I imagine that I would have a much bigger reaction. Imagine if your parents told you they were not your parents. Wouldn't you feel more emotion and subconsciously deny it at least for awhile? But no, Sinda took it all in quite calmly. Not only that,I can't even describe the pain and betrayal that I would feel if I were in her situation. For someone who lost their whole identity, she seemed too calm.

She also adjusted to normal life too fast. For example, she seems to know that the bag of gold that was given to her would last for a year. For a sheltered princess who never had to buy anything she seems to know a lot about market prices.

Lastly, I just can't really justify the whole point of the book. It was stressed on quite a few times that Orianne would have had made a fine queen. Even so, she just can't be the queen since she is not royalty. Instead, Sinda had to go look for the "real" princess who is obviously not prepared to rule. This is sending a message that lineage is more important than merit. It was not like they were stopping an evil queen from gaining the throne (even if someone evil was behind the switch). Why was it so important that Mika be the queen?
Profile Image for Hope.
318 reviews38 followers
March 29, 2019
So I pretty much guessed about 97% of what happened in this book before it actually happened. In other words, it's pretty predictable. Which is kinda why this was in my dnf pile for a bit but I decided to give it a second chance. And I'm glad I did.

I mean, it was fun and somewhat adventurous but just . . . lacked something. Maybe it was the reused descriptions, or how Sinda reminded you of things that happened three chapters before (like I don't have that bad a memory), or how I never really connected with any of the characters (except maybe Kiernan but anyway). Or maybe it was that nothing really happened until the last third of the book. I mean, there were lots of descriptions of Sinda getting used to her new life--which was mildly interesting--but not a whole lot of action. I mean, if you like slow adventure (would that be the right word?? or maybe low key action??) then I guess this is for you, friend.

This book is pretty clean except for three kisses (one a bit detailed) and references to magic (if you're opposed to that sort of thing).
Profile Image for Anne Osterlund.
Author 5 books5,501 followers
September 20, 2011
Her name was Nalia. And she was a princess. The only princess of Thorvaldor.

Until the day her parents informed her of the prophecy. And the other princess. The one who had been hidden away. The one who bore the right to the throne. The one who had to the right to everything Nalia had ever known. Including her own name.

Overnight Nalia becomes Sinda.

But who is Sinda?
The unwanted niece of a common village dyer.
The daughter of a dead man who gave her away because he didn’t want to remember her.
The rejected false princess exiled from the palace.

Or is she, possibly, the key the greatest conspiracy ever to alter the future of Thorvaldor?

I am, obviously, a sucker for a good princess story. I spent this entire book second guessing the plotline, but what I really enjoyed about it was the rich depiction of the kingdom, the mystery of the prophecy, and the light-hearted banter between Sinda and her best friend, Kiernan.

If you enjoy this, I also highly recommend The Decoy Princess by Dawn Cook.
Profile Image for April.
2,101 reviews950 followers
June 20, 2012
False Princess, I’ll tumble for ya. There are WIZARDS and CONSPIRACIES, and ROYALTY, and WUV TRUE WUV. The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal is a bang-up debut novel. If you enjoyed The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale and that style of writing, friend, you’ll LOVE this book. Plot in a nutshell? So Nalia is heir to the Thorvaldian throne, princess of the kingdom, best friends with jokester Kiernan, life is good. Then she is summoned by her parents and finds out that she isn’t the real princess. Her name isn’t even Nalia, it’s Sinda. She was raised as a false princess to protect the REAL princess from some oracle-predicted prophecy. Kicked out of the castle, she lives as a peasant until she discovers that perhaps there are still more secrets to be uncovered in Thorvald.

Read the rest of my review here
Profile Image for Anne.
4,061 reviews69.5k followers
September 9, 2011
This was good stuff! I was afraid it was going to be a boring story about a princess and the boy she loves, but it turned out to be a cool fantasy novel about a 16 year old plot to topple a monarchy. Niiice. There were some good twists and turns in the story, so I never had that Get-On-With-It! feeling that seems to plague me when I read some fantasy novels. There were also no boring hunks of useless information about the scenery, weather, or clothes. If there was a description of something it was usually relevant to the story. God, I love that!

I would say this is definitely worth reading, even if it's not your normal genre.
Profile Image for Kalyn✨.
483 reviews66 followers
January 26, 2022
What a pleasant surprise :')

I honestly had a great time reading this. It might be a bit too juvenile for some readers, but I prefer simple and easy-to-read books when it comes to fantasy so this was right up my alley. The characters were great and I love that the girls were able to hold their own.

I also appreciate that this is a standalone with a satisfying ending! No cliffhangers in sight.
Profile Image for Laura (Kyahgirl).
2,094 reviews143 followers
June 17, 2021
I really enjoyed this fantasy story with young people as the protagonists. The magic system and society were interesting. I appreciated the fact that the author didn’t fall into the swoony, angsty, teenager in love pit.
437 reviews128 followers
December 29, 2019
This book, wow. I had also had this book in my kindle for the longest time, but I kept getting it mixed up with another decoy princess book that I could not finish and so this one kept getting pushed to the side. It also didn't help that this cover looked so bland and exactly like multiple other covers of this genre.

Except that this book blew me out of the water! I finished it in one day! The blurb really should have gone into more detail, maybe something like:

Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia's led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when it's revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she's ever known.

Except that there's a long-running plot behind the prophecy behind her switch at birth. A sixteen-year long plot that began with a vendetta long forgotten and involves not one, but two false princesses.

See, wouldn't that have been more interesting? The fact that it's not the magic that makes the story different, because every tossed away princess always has to have some magic to make up for the lost castles, but that it wasn't even a switch to protect the REAL princess, but a longstanding plot to put ANOTHER fake princess on the throne. Just where was the real princess?

I have to say that despite how few the reviews are for this book, I can't help but rave about this. After having gone through three terrible YA fantasies, this one has basically ALL the elements that YA should have:

(1) a protagonist who's not interested in her clothes.
Look, there's nothing wrong with being interested in clothes, or makeup, or even boys. I know it, we know it, all the world knows it, so maybe YA authors should just take a step back and either not talk about it, or force their protagonists to talk about it, or have it be an issue AT ALL in books. Really, it's not even important, okay?

(2) a protagonist who doesn't gush over boys.
Same as the above. It happens. We were all young once. Just, for the love of all that's literary, can we have a protagonist who doesn't stop talking about how handsome anyone is? This is probably the FIRST YA BOOK I've read in maybe a few years that didn't talk about how handsome Kieran was. Tyr's attractiveness was mentioned, but it was raised in a sort of surprise that he was handsome, even after all the courtiers she had met at court. It wasn't so that she could fawn over either one of them, thank goodness.

(3) an actual plot.
Alright, most YA books do have plots. This one was actually quite actiony and fast-paced and twisty. I could predict some of the things that were happening, but not all, and that was a lovely change. It was nice that things were happening and nothing slowed down to build up the romance. There's nothing worse than enforced romantic times. I like the romance to be a subplot, so thanks.

(4) character growth.
This is always talked about in YA books, but rarely do I see it so adroitly developed. This protagonist goes through really difficult changes. It's no coincidence her real name is Sinda (like Cinderella) and that her circumstances go from palace to poverty. She's stunned about it but really too busy earning a keep to moan over it. It's addressed too, that she's too easygoing and doesn't make a fuss and maybe that's why she allows things to happen to her. This comment stays with her and she thinks about it a lot and maybe that's the reason it propels her to do a lot of things, but that's also understandable, given how she was raised and how she suddenly was without. Throughout the book, what propels her was this need to do something to prove herself, and that was so understandable and pitiful that I couldn't help but really feel for her. She lost every part of who was herself, even her name, and she had to accustom herself to that. At the end, there was a really lovely ending sentence that showed her coming to terms with who she was, and it was a hard-won acceptance, and I was glad that she got there.

(5) things don't happen in a vacuum.
I liked that the queen was found crying over her, given that she was considered the adopted daughter and there should have been feelings for her. I liked how they discussed the inequities of the monarchy and how they threw her away without a backward glance, even though she had basically given her life for a service she didn't know she was rendering. It was nice that the fact the wizard's college was only open to nobles was addressed and how it was something she never noticed when she was a princess. All of that was really subtle and cleverly woven in and made me really appreciate this book.

(6) female relationships were real and not caricaturized.
I think this one is one of the hardest aspects to get right in any book, but maybe especially in YA. The first female relationship we see Sinda having is with her aunt who has to take her in after she's exposed as the False Princess. Her aunt isn't a mean person, but she's naturally cold. On top of that, she had very natural reasons to be against Sinda, and all of that made sense also. She wasn't mean to her, she didn't hit her or abuse her or withhold things from her. She talked to her, but it wasn't as though the aunt had friends of her own. I could understand that. She was someone who had lost her family and her brother and then had to take in a niece that she didn't even know about, and it was very difficult to adjust to that, when the crown didn't even make monetary provisions for her (this monarchy was crap). All of that showed. She even tried to warn her niece and apologized for things she didn't tell her. All of that was real. Heartrenching, really, but real in a way that I don't often see.

The other thing I actually loved was how complex the relationship was between the three princesses. Initially Sinda really resented the princess who took her place, and it made a lot of sense. But once they met, it became even more complicated than that. I liked how the author didn't make Orianne out to be a flouncy princess, for all that she was tall and graceful and charming. She was a person who had to adjust to a new life, and it was new and different that Kieran was the one who brought Sinda to this view.

I really liked Mika, too, and it was a nice touch to reveal just how different she had grown up. She had eked out the worst living of all of them, and it showed in her description, because she was small and very, very skinny. She was skittish, like a fox, and wary of everyone. She talked differently too, without the proper enunciation of someone with a royal education. All of that was real and it was a nice touch that that affected her and made her someone who wanted to change the inequality that she saw. It made it real, rather than someone affectation that's given to a character who's "morally good."

(7) romance subplot.
I honestly don't usually see it done so well, but this was done as well as I've possibly ever seen it. I can see how some people would have wanted more. Those people should read the YA books where people complain about how the protagonist is so boy crazy. It just wasn't like that here. I don't think there was even one instance where Kieran was described as handsome. He was just Kieran, someone likable and who didn't like studying and who was really fun. Those were the descriptions she gave him in her mind, along with "best friend," but what stood out for him were his actions.

I mean, this guy is a real keeper. He's not the kind of keeper where you moon over his dark, brooding good looks, but he was someone who was just always there for her and who would always come for her. It wasn't like he rescued her, even though he kind of did. She wasn't waiting for him to rescue her, was the main point, I think. I sort of loved his confession to her in the middle of the book before everything became resolved, and how his little unfinished sentences let you, the reader, understand just how he felt even if Sinda refused to see it.

The politics of it all were really made clear. It was always sort of impossible between them, because she was the princess and she couldn't just marry the earl's son, even if his parents wanted it. Then when she wasn't the princess anymore, he couldn't have been allowed to marry her. And so they never discussed it at all, much in the way kids who grow up together never discuss these things when they're together. Seriously. It does not come up. It was lovely how he confessed that it didn't matter to him who she was, but that it was something that only mattered to her. It did, too, but I could sympathize with her reasons why. There had to have been a reason for everything to have made sense for her--her reason for living, basically. The conflict was real and not contrived, based on some misunderstandings, and I appreciated it.

I know that it's possible people wouldn't have liked how she was so headstrong about nobody believing her, but it was understandable too. It wasn't just that she couldn't trust people, it wasn't just that she had no proof, it was also a sort of pride and a determination to do it all herself, based on those days when she felt she was all alone, completely cut off from everything she had ever known, even her own identity. That was really poignant, and I could sympathize with that.

Essentially, I thought this book was impossibly lovely, and it had a good message about it all too. There were a lot of people who made her see sense, and there were people who made sense, even though she wasn't an idiotic protagonist. Sometimes we need all of those people around us to give us guidance and put meaning in our lives when we feel adrift. Sometimes the meaning to our own existence is there, but we have to look for it ourselves, and sometimes we have to fight for it too, even though the consequences may come with terrible costs that we didn't foresee. I think the message of all of this was lovely and really fitting for a coming of age novel, and it's such a pity that this book isn't rated higher or is more popular.

I absolutely recommend.
Profile Image for Rie_dominique.
664 reviews58 followers
May 6, 2012
“A high room with thrones at the end, and lying before them in a pool of blood, a girl, pale with death. A golden crown lay near her, the blood spreading out toward it. Behind her, fifteen lamps winked out.” (ramalan untuk putri mahkota Thorvaldor)

Putri Nalia, putri mahkota kerajaan Thorvaldor, sejak lahir telah dipersiapkan untuk menjadi ratu, memerintah kerajaannya setelah ayahnya meninggal. Walaupun pemalu, kikuk dan sering merasa tidak anggun, Nalia pintar dalam hal pelajaran. Dan ia selalu ditemani Keirnan, putra Earl of Rithia, satu-satunya teman yang dimiliki oleh Naila.

Bayangkan betapa syoknya Naila ketika ia diberitahu oleh Raja dan Ratu bahwa sebenarnya ia bukanlah putri yang asli. Putri Naila yang asli disembunyikan disebuah biara karena ramalan yang datang sebelum ia lahir bahwa ia akan dibunuh sebelum berumur enambelas tahun. Untuk mencegah terwujudnya ramalan ini, maka setelah putri mahkota lahir ia kemudian ditukar dengan seorang bayi lain, yang kemudian hidup sebagai putri mahkota sampai batas waktu ramalan lewat. Dengan kata lain, si bayi ini dipersiapkan untuk menerima takdir buruk si putri asli.

Sekarang, setelah enambelas tahun berlalu Raja dan Ratu bermaksud membawa kembali putri mereka yang disembunyikan untuk tinggal diistana. Pada pagi itu status dan identitas diri Nalia dicabut. Ia bukan lagi Nalia si putri mahkota, melainkan Sinda si rakyat biasa.

Dengan hanya dibekali sekantong kecil uang dan pakaian paling buruk diistana, Sinda dikirim kerumah bibinya untuk tinggal. Hubungan mereka kurang baik karena si bibi membenci ibu Sinda. Menurut bibinya, ibu Sindalah yang menyebabkan kematian ayah Sinda.

Sementara itu Sinda juga masih syok, bingung dan pedih mengenai dirinya sendiri. Seumur hidup ia dibesarkan sebagai Naila, dan sekarang ia harus beradaptasi menjadi Sinda yang harus mengerjakan sendiri segala sesuatunya. Belum lagi gosip-gosip yang harus dihadapinya di desa kecil tempat tinggal bibinya itu. Tidak memiliki teman dan menjadi bahan tertawaan setiap kali ia lewat. Kerasnya hidup membuat si mantan putri ini menjadi sedikit pahit. Kepahitan inilah yang menyebabkan Sinda bersikap kejam ketika Keirnan datang menemuinya.

Kemudian Sinda mendapati dirinya memiliki bakat sihir. Bakat yang diturunkan oleh ibunya. Dan iapun membuat keputusan. Ia akan kembali ke ibukota, mendaftar ke sekolah sihir dan menitis karir menjadi seorang penyihir. Ia memang bukan lagi Nalia sang putri, tapi ia bisa menjadi Sinda sang penyihir!

Tetapi sesampainya di kota, semua rencananya tidak berjalan mulus. Bahkan setelah mempelajari sihirpun ia tetap tidak bisa menguasainya sepenuhnya. Dengan susah payah Sinda berusaha memperbaiki hidupnya. dan ketika hidupnya mulai membaik dan ia kembali berteman dengan Keirnan, Sinda mendapatkan bahwa Putri Nalia yang sekarang ada diistana bukanlah putri yang asli!

Seolah mendapatkan inspirasi baru, Sinda berjuang sekuat tenaga untuk mencari putri yang sebenarnya. Ia menolak meminta pertolongan dari pihak lain karena dibawah sadarnya ia ingin dikenal sebagai penyelamat sang putri. Hal ini menimbulkan pertengkaran kembali diantara Sinda dan Keirnan. Keirnan menolak membantu Sinda dan lebih memutuskan untuk meminta bantuan dari pihak lain.

Baru membaca bab pertama buku ini sudah membuat mata saya berkaca-kaca dan hati serasa ngilu. Sikap Nalia/Sinda saat menerima berita bahwa dirinya bukanlah putri yang asli benar-benar bikin sedih. Karena emang dasarnya pemalu dan tidak suka konfrontasi, Sinda hanya bisa menerima berita itu dengan diam. Belum lagi ia bisa mencerna kenyataan bahwa dirinya bukan orang yang selama ini dipikirkannya, pada hari yang sama Sinda juga harus langsung meninggalkan istana. Benar-benar nasib Sinda ini seperti “sudah jatuh tertimpa tangga pula.”

Saya sedikit kesal dengan Raja dan Ratu. Enambelas tahun membesarkan Sinda, tidak adakah sedikit kasih sayang yang mereka rasakan kepada gadis itu? Memang dari awal mereka tahu bahwa Sinda bukanlah putri mereka, tapi tetap saja enambelas tahun adalah waktu yang lama untuk mengenal seseorang.

Dalam buku ini Sinda harus berjuang keras untuk mencari identitas dirinya. Siapakah dia sebenarnya? Jelas ia bukan putri mahkota Thorvaldor. Tapi “Sinda” juga merupakan sosok yang asing baginya.

Dalam perjalanan hidupnya yang baru ini Sinda belajar menguasai kelemahannya dan berubah menjadi gadis yang lebih kuat. Ia tidak lagi mudah berputus asa dan hanya duduk menunggu nasibnya ditentukan oleh orang lain.

Selain itu ia juga menemukan cinta yang sebenarnya telah ada lama didalam dirinya. Dulu sama sekali tidak terbayang olehnya untuk jatuh cinta kepada Kiernan. Sebagai putri mahkota, ia tidak akan diperbolehkan menikah dengan pria yang kedudukannya jauh lebih rendah. Sekarang, sebagai seorang Sinda, ia juga menghadapi dilema yang hampir sama. Hanya saja saat ini dirinyalah yang memiliki kedudukan yang lebih rendah. Mungkinkan Earl of Rithia mengijinkan putranya menikah dengan rakyat biasa?

Saya memberi 5* untuk buku ini bukan hanya karena ceritanya yang sangat bagus. Salahsatu alasan lainnya adalah karena ini buku pertama yang diterbitkan oleh Eilis O’Neal! Sebagai buku perdana, buku ini benar-benar dipersiapkan dengan baik. Bab pertama dari buku ini saja sudah bisa memikat kita untuk terus melanjutkan sampai kelembaran terakhir. Sungguh tidak sabar menunggu karya-karya Eilis O’Neal selanjutnya...
Profile Image for Jamie Dacyczyn.
1,683 reviews91 followers
April 10, 2023
I would have given this book three stars (it was enjoyable, but bland) EXCEPT that I've already read "The Decoy Princess" by Dawn Cook. "The False Princess" was basically the exact same opening premise, but with a way less exciting outcome.

Here is the synopsis for both books (in "The Decoy Princess" there is a little more build up to the whole substitute princess thing. In "The False Princess" everything happens in the first chapter):

We have a tomboyish princess (Tess in "The Decoy Princess" and Sinda in "The False Princess"), who isn't very princessy, but whatever. When her (arbitrary teen number) birthday rolls around, Tess/Sinda is told that there was a prophesy about her that foretold bloodshed. In order to pretect her, the royal family found an orphaned baby girl, switched her for the princess, and sent the real princess to live in a convent. Now that she's come of age, it's time to bring the real princess back. Mayhem ensues. Both even have similar looking princesses: skinny, with brown hair that is forever falling loose.

The primary difference between this book and Decoy, is that in this book there's more magical stuff (plus a third princess thrown into the mix), and while Sinda is brave and has magical talent....she's basically useless (though of course she's got, like, way more potential magic than anyone ever). She just accepts the fact that the last sixteen years of her life have been a waste, and now she has to go live in the country with no skills.

In "Decoy", Tess's royal parents wanted to make sure that she was safe from assassination attempts (even if she wasn't the real princess) so they gave her a bodyguard who taught her how to fight, resist venomous darts, use a bullwhip, hide like a shadow, and shoot people with the aforementioned venomous darts. This means that when shit hits the fan, Tess manages to at least kick a little butt and there's some actual action in the book.

Yeah, "The False Princess" isn't the same as "Decoy" entirely, but the fact that basically the whole first chapter is the exact same scenario as the first few chapters in "Decoy"....well, it was just hard to get over that. Even without that, this book never really rises to anything new. It felt very predictable, and left some holes that could have made the book more intriguing. For example, Sinda (By the way, Sinda's name and the name of the real princess, Nadia, are a little too close to Simba and Nala) is the child of a country man and a mysterious dark-haired wizard woman who disappears shortly after Sinda was born (after which, her real father gave Sinda to the king and queen for their decoy, and then died). To me, this left open a whole side-plot of who Sinda's real mother was. For a good stretch of the book, I predicted that we'd find out that Sinda's real mother was the evil wizard woman who was causing all of the trouble (described as a magical noble woman with dark hair, just like Sinda's mother)...but in the end, that was just a false lead and we never learn who Sinda got her super powerful magic from. Really? All that spookiness about Sinda's mysterious mother, and it just goes nowhere? Whatever. Lame.

Basically, this book offers nothing original, wraps up too neatly, and to me it falls far short of it's way-more-badass-and-sneaky twin "The Decoy Princess". Read that one instead.
Profile Image for Reading Vacation.
524 reviews103 followers
March 9, 2011


Prepare for some seriously gushy book love.

The False Princess is the perfect storm. It delivers magic, secret identities, hidden truths, and a bit of romance in one incredible story. I am in LOVE with this book!

The intricate story-line is perfectly laid out. It is not at all confusing, but it is most certainly compelling. Let’s just say that Eilis O’Neal is an expert at building suspense and I did not want to stop reading for even a minute. With moments that will make you cry, scream, laugh, and gasp – this plot delivers!

Sinda was a fascinating main character. Instead of slipping into a depression when she learned that her first sixteen years were a lie, Sinda grew stronger. When she found that she possessed dangerous magical powers, she did not cower away. Instead, Sinda fought hard to harness those powers.

The other characters were great too. There was Sinda’s best friend Keirnan. He was loyal, sweet, and a bit of a prankster. Then there was the especially sweet Nalia, who Sinda stood in for. Oh, and don’t forget the wizard that Sinda worked for. She was scatter-brained and CrAzY funny!

The False Princess belongs on your to-read list because it offers a cleverly crafted story with awesome characters.


5 Loved

Cover Comments

I just love that the cover is simple and mysterious. I THINK the girl is Sinda and the picture is Nalia – but I don’t know for sure. I really like the rich purple wallpaper in the back ground too.
Profile Image for Bethany Atazadeh.
Author 24 books802 followers
June 28, 2021
Finished this yesterday, aka read it in two days! That's one of my main signs of a good book, when it gives you that "can't put it down, must know what happens" feeling haha... That plus a good, satisfying ending, which I would say this had as well. While the writing itself wasn't my personal favorite, since there was a lot of telling, I have to say I loved the twists and turns of the plot. There were a few times I thought, this might be predictable - but I was wrong! Definitely a fun read!
Profile Image for jules ⋆.ೃ࿔*:・.
127 reviews21 followers
August 14, 2022
2.75 ⭐ personally, i would've minded my own business or i would be consumed by bitterness and anger and turn into the villain 😆 with all that power, sinda should've snapped and i would cheer for her. revenge would've been more realistic AND VALID than saving a throne that abandoned her once her duty was up lmao how pathetic 😭
Profile Image for Jenny.
48 reviews21 followers
October 11, 2011
A case of a fantastic idea, poorly executed. Which is one of my pet peeves where books are concerned. I wanted to like this book, I really did. The plot was one that should have been truly enthralling and satisfying. It would have been had anything actually happened. Don't get me wrong, things happened. The problem with them happening was that the narrator, Sinda, was so stuck in her head and so easily distracted by her own thoughts that in the middle of almost every scene of action she stops to think. She stops to think in mid-conversation too. Then after paragraph after paragraph of her meandering thoughts she'll return to the conversation as though no time had passed. Faced with dire danger, Sinda stops telling the immediate story to reflect on her personal woes, misgivings, and self-loathing. All of which leaves the narrative in a choppy, disjointed state.

Her frequent side-trips into her head also leave us with very little information on the other characters around her. There were hints that characters like Kiernan and others were really interesting people. I would have really enjoyed getting to know them better. Except Sinda was so preoccupied with herself and her thoughts that all we really get to know is bits and pieces intermittently. Afterthoughts and shadows of personalities. Her own personality is flat on the pages. She is a girl who mostly worries and makes plans without much thought of anything else including missing her parents, which she never does even though they'd been her parents for 16 years! I can't imagine why Kiernan would be so interested in a girl who strays off into her own thoughts more often than she interacts and has very little personality to speak of.

The moment Mika stepped onto the scene in the last third of the story it was like a breath of fresh air and I knew immediately it was her story we should have been hearing. I wanted to be inside her head. She was simple, unmuddled, and feisty. She was a girl of action and it would have made so much more sense for Kiernan to have loved her than Sinda. It's a shame that we weren't treated to more of Mika.

When there should be dialogue, Sinda is thinking. When there should be action, Sinda is talking. There is a long scene of exposition toward the end of the book that is mostly dialogue between Sinda and the villain. They have a nice long chat to get it all out in the open. Even in the final moments, when the traps have been sprung and Sinda faces off for the last time with the villain it's done in thoughts and dialogue. Almost no action whatsoever takes place in the scene. In fact, the actions we do get to read are strangely written and happen so much in the middle of a bunch of thinking that I almost missed it.

And that dangerous magic? We see very little of it. In fact, we're told it's dangerous but we don't really see much that would indicate that. Her first burst of the magic does almost nothing and leads to part of the story ending abruptly with no satisfying resolution.

Basically this book read like the inner thoughts of a boring person not doing much. If you took all the excess and tangent thoughts out of the story and shaved back the dialogue so that the action became more action-y it would have been just long enough to be a bedtime fairy tale. The sort with little detail meant for young children who wouldn't really understand it anyway.

I'm not usually so hard on books but I think my problem with this one is that it promised so much with the fabulous plot idea and delivered so little. The idea was squandered and that made me sad. And because I'm so hard on the book I will not be posting this review anywhere else I usually post reviews. This is pretty much a rant of personal opinion rather than a strict review. I can only hope that the author will continue honing her craft and finding ways to execute her good ideas in a much more satisfying manner.
Profile Image for Kailia.
539 reviews123 followers
April 12, 2020
I love fantasy. After reading so many different books about fantasy worlds and fantasy characters, I’ve been dying to get my hands on something really good. I heard about this book A LONG time ago and I’ve been waiting for it to be ready for reviewing. When I got my hands on it, I read it immediately. I was looking for something good. Eilis O’Neal delivered.

In most fantasies, a lot of the plot and story are focused on explain the world and how everything works. While this is a good idea, it’s not always the most fun stuff to read about. It was not the case with this book. O’Neal took her time explaining everything about this world and its people. It was not at all loaded because everything had its own time to be revealed. Oh the secrecy! And the twists and turns and the seemingly predictable plot. Believe me, O’Neal thought this plot out through because just when I thought I knew who it was or what was happening, BAM! Something would come in and change all of that.

O’Neal has a great clear cut writing style that takes time to develop but it’s not too fast or too slow; it’s just right. She writes her characters to be believable people and people we can relate to even though they live in a fantasy world. She gives her characters a defined voice and is able to write it that way throughout the novel. The False Princess is a great start to a wonderful writing career!

Now if I found out that I wasn’t the real princess but rather a poor girl in the real princess’s place, I’d freak out. Actually, “freak out” doesn’t even begin to cover what I’d be doing. Sinda, though, takes it so well. She’s struggling yes and it’s upsetting, but she realizes early on that that’s not going to help her. If she’s going to figure out what’s going on, she’s going to need to be calm and collected. She knew what she wanted and she knew how to get it. She grew up never changing what she believed in and I was happy when after the reveling, she didn’t change her beliefs. Kiernan was a great friend and he’s always there for her. O’Neal doesn’t jump to the two of them falling right in love but she takes time to develop their relationship as Sinda and Kiernan, not Kiernan and the Princess. He was a great character who was well developed and come on, there was romance, GOOD, well written romance, so of course I loved it. I think you will to! J

One of the best fantasies’s of this year so far and one of my favorite books, The False Princess was a well written book. It had great characters, romance, danger, surprises, twists and turns, sword fighting, a bad guy; it had everything! If you’re looking for a good fantasy, check this book out. Of course, if you want to just read something worthwhile, this is also the book for you! I’m looking forward to anything else O’Neal writes!

Profile Image for Wealhtheow.
2,448 reviews548 followers
January 17, 2013
Despite the generic YA cover, this isn't paint-by-numbers fantasy. This book was clearly written out of a deep appreciation for and knowledge of fantasy tropes.

Nalia is a princess whose only real joys are old documents, languages, and her one friend, Kiernan. She's shy and clumsy, but she hopes to grow up to rule her country well. Then her parents summon her to their throne room and reveal that she isn't a princess at all. 16 years ago they paid her father for her, so that the real princess could remain in hiding, safe from a prophecied death. Now that the prophecy has been avoided, the real Nalia can be brought to court, and the false Nalia--truly named Sinda--will of course have to leave. Her former parents give her a small sack of gold and send her to live with her aunt, a woman she's never met. Her aunt, a poor woman who works hard and likes being solitary, isn't cruel but is not particularly pleased to be saddled with her late brother's useless daughter. Sinda has courtly accomplishments, but was so divorced from the ordinary world that she has to learn how to dress herself.

I really liked this book. Sinda has a unique and likeable voice; I immediately related to her and wanted the best for her. And I loved the twists on prophecies about princesses--the plot is so clever, without being overcomplicated. I liked that no one (save perhaps SPOILER) is downright bad, but that entrenched power structures and privilege do a lot of damage, not all of it intended.
Profile Image for Steph Su.
960 reviews449 followers
March 10, 2011
Reading the jacket synopsis, I thought this book was going to be yet another “princess finds out she’s not the real princess and attempts to make a new life for herself” tale. Happily, however, THE FALSE PRINCESS is all that, and more. It is an engaging light fantasy that will charm you no matter how well read you think you are in the genre.

Past the first chapter, the plot of THE FALSE PRINCESS moves at an entertainingly brisk pace, as it follows Sinda into the country, back into the city, and in and out of nervewracking situations. The time that Sinda spends with her aunt feels a little forced, her attempt to fit into her new life glossed over, but this makes sense when you consider that the most exciting part of the book occurs when Sinda returns to the city and discovers the conspiracy.

THE FALSE PRINCESS is at its core a fairly standard “quest” tale, but contains so much spunk and personality from its characters that it transcends the trope and makes it appealing to even readers who don’t usually read fantasy, who typically prefer character-driven novels. Sinda changes from a timid royal into an initiative-taking heroine, a brave girl who takes on tasks even knowing that the odds are stacked against her. Kiernan is a wonderful supporting character, utterly dedicated to Sinda, with a playfulness that offsets the darker tones of Sinda’s quest.

THE FALSE PRINCESS is a friendly fantasy read that would be a perfect gift for younger readers who’ve enjoyed the works of Gail Carson Levine, Diana Wynne Jones, and Margaret Peterson Haddix’s fantasy novels. It’s definitely a cut above other light fantasies I’ve read recently, and I would definitely recommend it to a readers looking for exactly that!
Profile Image for Michelle.
851 reviews1 follower
June 23, 2020
Switched-at-birth identities, suppressed magical powers, romance, suppressed romance, imprisonment, madcap horseback riding, palace intrigue, secret magical doors, further switched identities, ancient runes on scrolls.....OH MY GOD. I may have missed a few key exciting tropes, but isn't that enough? I can't wait for this to be out!
34 reviews11 followers
March 17, 2016
Este livro é bastante interessante, deveria ser mais conhecido, é, na minha opinião, melhor que muitos dos best sellers que já li. Adorei as personagens, sobretudo as transformações que foram sofrendo ao longo da história. Para além disso, a história em si é bastante cativante, dava comigo ansiosa para saber o que iria acontecer, foi uma leitura que valeu imenso a pena!
Profile Image for Berkley.
349 reviews12 followers
January 9, 2020
I feel like this book should become a classic fairytale, like Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty. It was really good. I liked all of the character's sassy or snarky attitudes, and I really enjoyed the intricate storyline. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes fairytales or fantasy.
Profile Image for Kristy.
592 reviews88 followers
April 27, 2012
Well, I typed a review for this... but my lovely computer decided to freeze while saving it. So now I am fuming and don't really feel like typing this review over again!!!

4 stars

good book.
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