Rummanah Aasi
  I really enjoyed reading Anne Ousterlund's Academy 7 which is a mash-up between Star Wars, The Outsiders, and Rome and Juliet with a fabulous cast of characters. I wanted to read more by this author, so I picked up her debut novel Aurelia in order to prepare for her latest release and companion novel Exile which is released next week.

Description: Royal life isn't all that great. Just ask Princess Aurelia who is trying to deal with a cold, distant, and highly critical stepmother, a powerful neighboring king who is as old as her father and seeks to marry her for the sole purpose of political gain, and an unknown assassin who wants her dead. After several unsuccessful attempts on Aurelia's life, Robert, a former classmate, friend, and son of a former royal spy, is hired to join court life and investigate. Who wants Aurelia dead and how far is the assassin willing to go to make sure she is dead?

Review:  Aurelia may sound like any other princess story, but I really enjoyed its well cast of characters and the right balance of romance, mystery, and drama. As the story begins, we are introduced to the kingdom of Tyralt, where a lavish party is thrown for Melony, Aurelia's younger sister. The king is on the lookout for a suitable suitor to marry his eldest daughter, Aurelia, who is beyond bored and makes no hesitation to show her irritation. Unlike the king, Aurelia is unaware that she is on someone's actual hit list. Two failed assassination attempts have been discovered. Ousterlund balances the lavish parties, talks of stallions, and betrayals with intrigue. Her descriptive narrative and spot on dialogue are concise and did not cause me to skim several passages. The mystery is well conceived and woven neatly into the story, which kept me turning the pages.
   In addition to the mystery, I also really liked the characters. Aurelia is the rebellious crown princess of Tyralt. She hates being called "your Highness" and longs for a time where she can take control of her own destiny. She goes against the constraints of court composure and political etiquette by disguising herself as a commoner and going to the villages to talk to her people. She is feisty, outspoken, and determined. She is not afraid to speak her opinion when it comes to making and challenging laws that effect her land even if it's going against her father and stepmother. She refuses to be persuaded and forced to many any suitable (read rich and old) husband. Aurelia doesn't see what's so great about being royalty. In her eyes, it's just another cage she is struggling to break out of.
  Robert is Aurelia's childhood friend whose father was once the king’s own spy. When he hears the news that Aurelia's life is in danger, he volunteers to take on the case and find the assassin. Robert is charming and chivalrous. He understands Aurelia's desire to break free from her restraints, he too would like to live his own life on his terms. There is definitely chemistry between these two characters, which definitely shines through when the characters slowly unveil their insecurities and fears. I was happy to see that Aurelia stays her ground and doesn't become mopey with Robert around while Robert play the "I like you but you'd be in danger if you're with me" card that is used all too often in YA romances. Another interesting characters include Chris, Robert's happy go lucky cousin, and Melony, Aurelia's sister who has no qualms about being a part of a royal family.
  While Aurelia isn't a story that is plausible, it is definitely entertaining. Readers looking for a princess fix that isn't seeped into history or fantasy will highly enjoy this title. I'm looking forward to see what is happening next in Exile, which I hope to review later this week.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. A squeaky clean book that could be easily recommended to Grades 5 and up.

If you like this book try: Exile by Anne Ousterlund, A Countess Below the Stairs or The Reluctant Heiress by Eva Ibbotson
2 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    I love the sound of Aurelia, I love a girl that holds her own and doesn't become a mess of emotions as soon as a guy enters the picture! I get really irritated at mopey heroines. Fantastic review Rummanah, this one sounds right up my alley!

  2. She's definitely not the mopey type and well beyond her years. She would make an awesome queen.

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