About the Book:
Title: The Stolen Kingdom
Author: Jillian Boehme
Page Length: 320
Publication Date: March 2, 2021
Publisher: Tor Teen
Synopsis: For a hundred years, the once-prosperous kingdom of Perin Faye has suffered under the rule of the greedy and power-hungry Thungrave kings. Maralyth Graylaern, a vintner’s daughter, has no idea her hidden magical power is proof of a secret bloodline and claim to the throne. Alac Thungrave, the king’s second son, has always been uncomfortable with his position as the spare heir—and the dark, stolen magic that comes with ruling.
When Maralyth becomes embroiled in a plot to murder the royal family and seize the throne, a cat-and-mouse chase ensues in an adventure of dark magic, court intrigue, and forbidden love.
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Maralyth, a winemaker’s daughter, has a secret. Born with a magical power that most people believed was lost or stolen long ago, she uses it to help the vineyard. However, when others learn of this secret, Mara’s entire life turns upside down. A young woman who never wanted more than to be a successful winemaker has the throne thrust upon her when she is kidnapped and told that she is the rightful heir.
With her life and the lives of those she loves threatened, Mara has no choice but to take the throne and become a better ruler than the current greedy king. Her feelings change when faced with the harsh realities of the coup and she meets the handsome and kind prince. Will Mara reveal her secrets? Will she ignore her feelings and take the throne?
My heart and head were tangled in an endless knot. And I’d be damned if I let my heart win.
Written from dual perspectives, Alac and Mara’s, The Stolen Kingdom focuses on the thoughts and feelings of both characters. I like that you really get to understand both characters – their motivations, desires, concerns, and more. Mara is selfless, strong, and cares deeply about others. Alac is kind, sincere, and honorable. He cares about the people and doesn’t want to rule if it means taking on dark power. I think the dual perspectives allows for an in-depth and honest view of both Mara and Alac. It also shows how similar and well-suited they are.
The blossoming relationship between Alac and Mara is sweet and complicated. However, this enemies-to-lovers romance is easy to root for. Both Mara and Alac are smart, brave, and kind. They both have a love of and interest in winemaking. Mara, in particular, has a long and strong connection to the vineyards and winemaking. It’s in her blood, and her power responds to living things.
Both characters also seem trapped in their current situations. Alac is surrounded by darkness and people who thirst for power (and magic). Forced to be part of a coup attempt, Mara’s actions are controlled by those who want to usurp the throne. The fear, uncertainty, and feelings of entrapment draw the couple together, as do their similar good qualities. Mara and Alac feel like they can be themselves with each other, which is all but impossible in their world of political intrigue and manipulation.
The magical aspects of the story are really interesting and highlight the age-old battle between good and evil. Good magic and bad magic, as well as good people and bad people, contribute to the story’s action, excitement, and character development. Lies, political maneuverings, betrayals, and secrets from the past, all of which relate to magic, also enhance the plot. Alac and Mara reject the dark magic and all it entails, and they both want to find a way to rid their world of it. However, this proves almost impossible.
No creature wants to be caught, no matter how fine the net.
I also loved the vivid imagery throughout the book. I particularly liked the bird imagery, especially in relation to Mara, who frequently feels caged and longs for freedom. There is one scene where Mara is served dinner, a tray of delectable food with a beautiful bird in the center. This bird, served up on a shiny platter, is similar to Mara, who is being trained and presented (not on a shiny platter but in shiny and new clothing and baubles) as the perfect figurehead. Later in the same scene, Mara describes the bed in her kidnapper’s home as “a nest of comfort in the midst of a nightmare.” This evokes such strong bird imagery and feelings of entrapment, and it highlights Mara’s fear, helplessness, and desire for freedom.
I enjoyed this standalone fantasy and think it will appeal to readers who like young adult fantasies with a great enemies-to-lovers romance. I also think people who like books with cool magic systems and political drama will enjoy the book. Thanks so much to NetGalley, Tor Teen, and Jillian Boehme for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
- The romance! You can’t go wrong with a nice enemies-to-lovers romance!
- The imagery is very strong and vivid.
- The magic system.
Curiosity is a quickly ripened fruit.
It wasn’t fear that kept my eyes from shutting – it was a sense of powerlessness. I sat up, railing wordlessly against it.
There’s no glory in being king if your people don’t stand with you.
This is a great book for readers who like standalone YA fantasies!