Review: The Princess in the Opal Mask by Jenny Lundquist

Format: Paperback
Publisher: Running Press Teens
Pages: 352 pages
Series: The Princess in the Opal Mask #1
Release Date: October 22, 2013
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Every Fairy-Tale Ending Has a Price. . . . Orphaned as a child in the crumbling village of Tulan, Elara is determined to learn her true identity, even if it means wielding a dagger. Meanwhile, in Galandria's royal capital, Princess Wilha stands out as someone to either worship or fear. Though no one knows why the king has always made her conceal her face--including Wilha herself. When an assassination attempt threatens the peace of neighboring kingdoms, Elara and Wilha are brought face to face . . . with a chance at claiming new identities. However, with dark revelations now surfacing, both girls will need to decide if brighter futures are worth the binding risks.

I was really excited to read Lundquist's The Princess in the Opal Mask, especially since my sister really enjoyed her previous novel Plastic Polly. I was really intrigued by the premise of The Princess in the Opal Mask. The idea of two girls struggling to find their identity piqued my interest and the fairy-tale-esque setting that is hinted in the blurb was the icing on the cake, making Jenny Lundquist's novel a seemingly ideal read for me. The cover of the book is also really nice; if I had stumbled upon The Princess in the Opal Mask in a bookstore or library, I would have picked it up based on the very aesthetically pleasing cover.

As one can imagine from reading the synopsis, Elara and Wilha were very different characters, yet as I read and learned more about each of them, I came to like and identify with both girls. Coming from a difficult upbringing, Elara was one of those heroines who are headstrong and fearless; Wilha, on the other had, was more the very timid and obedient type, having been raised as a pampered princess who faces others' judgments daily.

Princess in the Opal Mask is told in alternating, first-person perspective of Elara and Wilha. The more I read and learned about each girl, I couldn't help but sympathize with both. I saw a bit of myself in each of them. But because they were so different, there was a lot of conflict between Elara and Wilha--they disagreed on a number of things, ranging from favorite foods to how to act. As they argued throughout the novel, I couldn't help but get frustrated with them as they butt heads because it was like watching my siblings or friends argue. Nevertheless, Elara and Wilha were both great characters and a nice duo, lonely and insecure in their own way. I rooted for both of them all throughout the novel as they struggled to identify themselves, and ultimately, learn to understand each other. 

The setting of Princess in the Opal Mask was vivid and very well-developed. I liked how the setting (made up of two rivaling countries that were once united as one) was built around a very plausible history. Lundquist's descriptive writing style really shined when describing the setting.

The story started off really well. I absolutely loved the beginning; I became really invested in the novel when suspense built up for the big reveal that drove the rest of the plot. I remember how I kept yelling "Ahhh! What? What is it?!" after every cliff-hanging chapter ending and then scrambling to turn and read the next page to find out exactly what. When all was finally revealed and explained, I was taken by surprise. For a while after that, the plot continued to build up some suspense, mystery, and action, but at about 150 pages from the end the pacing felt off. The story lost some of its flow and fell flat for me.

Towards the end Princess in the Opal Mask lost its momentum and left me confused but I loved the plot, characters, setting and writing overall. It was a very enjoyable read to a point. If you enjoyed Lundquist's previous novels or you love fairy-tale-esque fantasy stories The Princess in the Opal Mask is a good novel to pick up. I also recommend this book to older middle grade readers.

1 comment

  1. It's always disappointing when the story feels slow after the big reveal but I'm glad that it was at least interesting. Great review! This one is on my tbr list.


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