Saturday, December 31, 2011

Review: Aurelia

by Anne Osterlund

Aurelia, princess of the kingdom of Tyralt, longs for freedom. Weighed down by old-fashioned traditions, courtly expectations of behavior, and her father's unending parade of chosen suitors, Aurelia wants to make her own choices and move freely among her kingdom and its people.

But someone wants this kind and just princess dead; recently, she has been the target of multiple assassination attempts. Her childhood friend Robert, the son of a former royal spy, has returned to court to try to protect her and identify the culprit. As they race to gather clues, their friendship begins to blossom into something more. As her situation becomes increasingly dire, Aurelia must depend on Robert and herself to preserve her kingdom, and her life. 

Aurelia is a smart, headstrong, determined heroine from start to finish. She knows what she wants and will not be turned away from her goals. She is not a stilted, prim and proper princess; she is realistic and relatable. I could feel her sense of entrapment, the conflict between her desire to go off and see the world and her duties to her family and her kingdom. She is never the damsel in distress; she is perfectly capable of taking care of herself and, ultimately, defending herself against immediate danger. She and Robert are a team, not a one-sided rescue mission.

The mystery of who is behind the assassination attempts is very well carried out. Hints are dropped one at a time, letting readers puzzle over them and try to piece them together just as Aurelia and Robert do. I have to admit that I didn't see the final revelation coming. (SPOILER - highlight to read: I knew her stepmother Elise was too obvious - she's a bitter, hateful woman, but too many clues were pointing to her. It just couldn't be. I had a feeling Chris was involved somehow - he always seemed to be showing up at critical moments - but I didn't anticipate the connection between him and Melony. She seemed genuine in her kind and gentle interactions with Aurelia; I was just as taken in as Aurelia herself was.)

The romance between Aurelia and Robert was developed so perfectly - not too rushed, not too slowly, not too mushy and cutesy. It was natural and wonderful. I kept waiting for Robert to make a move and voice his feelings, and when he finally did, my heart melted. There is a passage at the end of the book about Robert's gaze on Aurelia that solidified Aurelia and Robert as one of my favorite YA couples: "There was power in that gaze, something that drew her in and held her. But it was not constricting. It did not push down on her from above. It simply was." I can't even put into words how beautiful I think it is that with Robert's love, Aurelia finally finds freedom.

I finished the book reluctantly, wishing it wasn't over. I loved this fantasy/romance/mystery blend and I can't wait to see how Aurelia and Robert's adventures continue in the sequel, Exile!

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

No comments:

Post a Comment