Book Review: CASTLES IN THEIR BONES by Laura Sebastian

I received a review copy from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Title in white on rusty orange next to girl's face
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 5 stars
Series: yes - first book in trilogy

Synopsis:

Book cover for CASTLES IN THEIR BONES: title in gold on blonde girl with fancy dress on

Empress Margaraux has had plans for her daughters since the day they were born. Princesses Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz will be queens. And now, age sixteen, they each must leave their homeland and marry their princes.

Beautiful, smart, and demure, the triplets appear to be the perfect brides—because Margaraux knows there is one common truth: everyone underestimates a girl. Which is a grave mistake. Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz are no innocents. They have been trained since birth in the arts of deception, seduction, and violence with a singular goal—to bring down monarchies— and their marriages are merely the first stage of their mother’s grand vision: to one day reign over the entire continent of Vesteria.

The princesses have spent their lives preparing, and now they are ready, each with her own secret skill, and each with a single wish, pulled from the stars. Only, the stars have their own plans—and their mother hasn’t told them all of hers.

Life abroad is a test. Will their loyalties stay true? Or will they learn that they can’t trust anyone—not even each other? 

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

I was really looking forwards to Laura Sebastian’s next YA trilogy after the ASH PRINCESS series finished and her adult debut, HALF SICK OF SHADOWS – and CASTLES IN THEIR BONES.

I love books full of intrigue, so a book about triplets married off to foreign lands in order to bring them down from within is perfect for me. There are schemes within schemes as the sisters discover there’s more to their mother’s plans than they were told – or expected. Plus there is everyone else within the countries scheming, just to add more webs to the mix!

I loved trying to pick apart the knots of loyalties and inducements to work out who was working for who, and what it meant for the Empress’ plans. Not to mention working out what would be the thing that pushed the sisters over their respective lines to start working for themselves.

Naturally, the sisters’ loyalties are tested and have to decide whether to continue with their mother’s plan or not. I was a little worried that, for a couple of them, their decision would be made due to falling in love with a boy (after all, YA has a bit of a reputation for that.) However, thankfully, their decisions are about what they want from themselves – and if they can let go of their fears and training to reach for what they want. And then the consequence of doing or not doing that.

The book is written in third person present, which is quite an usual tense/person combination for YA (and SFF, but to a slightly lesser extent.) It’s very much the marmite combination for me, working for some books but not others, pretty much falling where it falls on a two-axis literary/not literary and personal/impersonal plot.

It worked for me here, as it was a pretty deep POV (so very personal) but not too literary leaning in style (this tense combo can quite often lends itself to a literary style, but that’s often not my preference.) The writing is quiet direct and lets you know exactly how the sisters are feeling – and what choices they’re tossing up.

The ending is quite the cliff-hanger. Part of me wants to believe that there’s someway around what it’s suggesting, and the other part of me wants it to stand as is. It is such a powerful ending, and if it stands, then it’s going completely in the face of what often happens with fiction.

Either way, I am eager for the next book (which doesn’t yet have a title or release date at time of writing this!)


Read my reviews of other books by Laura Sebastian:

Young Adult:

Ash Princess:

Adult:

Standalones:

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