In a land where being the fairest maiden is a curse . . .
A beautiful noblewoman with a terrible secret, and a prince subjected to slavery.
Upon the death of her wealthy father, Lady Gabriella is condemned to work in Warwick’s gem mine. As she struggles to survive the dangerous conditions, her kindness and beauty shine as brightly as the jewels the slaves excavate. While laboring, Gabriella plots how to avenge her father’s death and stop Queen Margery’s cruelty.
Prince Vilmar of Scania enslaves himself in Warwick’s gem mine as part of a royal test to prove himself the most worthy of three brothers to become the king’s successor. Amidst the hardships, he doesn’t anticipate his growing compassion for the other slaves, especially tenderhearted Gabriella.
As the annual summer ball looms nearer, Gabriella sets into motion her plan to end Queen Margery’s evil. When Vilmar learns of Gabriella’s intentions, he resolves to come to her aid and fight against Warwick’s queen. But doing so may require him to give up his chance of becoming Scania’s next king, perhaps even cost him his life.
This is a very different and unique Cinderella retelling. I had an extremely vague idea of the twist from my sister reading it, but when it came around, I was still surprised. It became kind of a game to pick out the Cinderella elements in this story. And I was definitely turning pages to figure out if it would end like a Cinderella story . . . or not. (Or have some twist that I could have never seen coming.)
Another thing I really loved about it was how Gabriella and Vilmar sacrificed for each other. In a lot of romance plots, especially in young adult fiction, the couple don’t do anything for each other. They simply kiss a few times, flirt ALL the time, and declare it a love story. It was nice to see two leads who, while they had their own struggles, were kind to the people around them and to each other.
On the topic of those struggles—those were strong and relatable as well. Gabriella’s need for revenge was an interesting quality to hand to a Cinderella character. Vilmar’s struggle to best his brother as well also packed the emotional punch needed. The author did a good job making me feel the emotions, even if their emotional responses weren’t quite the same as mine would be.
But who will truly become king? And how much is this like a Cinderella story? You’ll have to read to find out.
Hi there! Rachel again. Check out this section for book reviews and cover reveals of some of my favorites!