Read this if you’re in the mood for: YA historical fantasy, general badassery, romance, magic, feminism, world-building, supporting characters
Summary: A princess must find her place in a reborn world.
She flees on her wedding day.
She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor's secret collection.
She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.
She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.
The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can't abide. Like having to marry someone she's never met to secure a political alliance.
Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love.
Read this if you like:
THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson
A princess coming into her own (and becoming a badass) in a magical, epic, historical world? Sounds familiar, in the best way! The plots are quite different, but both Elisa and Lia have destinies to fulfill.
BITTERBLUE by Kristin Cashore
Lia is a princess and Bitterblue is queen, but both have huge learning curves and plenty of deception to contend with in their respective kingdoms.
The Rec: Historical fantasy is my drug of choice, but I'll try to be objective here. I love that Lia is a badass heroine in a decidedly female way (aka, her badassery is not dependent upon what society values as traditionally male traits/skills). Her strengths are her intelligence, her courage, her tenacity, and her compassion. Yes, she can throw a knife — but she still needs to practice. She inspires loyalty in the people around her, and she has a strong sense of duty... but on her own terms.
Full disclosure: There's a love triangle (ish) — in the way that there are two guys who compete for Lia's affection. But balancing out the romance component is something even stronger — the book's female relationships. Lia's friendships with her lady's maid (and co-runaway), the innkeeper who takes them in, and a fellow serving wench are multi-layered and wonderful.
As for the epic adventure, it's pretty awesome, crossing over deserts and plains and all kinds of crazy landscapes that just come alive with Pearson's writing. (Truly, I loved the worldbuilding, and I'd love to visit Terravin!) I wish we got into the magic a smidge more, but there's soooooo much promise for the sequel!
The Caveat: This is a long book, and for readers who want to get to the epic adventure part, it takes awhile, but the ending and the setup for the rest of the series make it worthwhile!
You should read this because: I'm super biased in favor of historical fantasies, so I'll leave you with this: There can never be too many badass princesses in the world.
And the sequel, THE HEART OF BETRAYAL, is out now!