Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia has led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when she learns, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city, her best friend, Kiernan, and the only life she’s ever known.
Sent to live with her only surviving relative, a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks. Then she discovers that magic runs through her veins – long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control – and she realizes that she will never learn to be just a simple village girl.
Sinda returns to the city to seek answers. Instead, she rediscovers the boy who refused to forsake her, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor’s history, forever.
I've been greatly looking forward to this book! Along with Starcrossed by Elizabeth Bunce and Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta this is another great high fantasy YA book with a great twist: instead of being about a common girl who finds out she's a princess, it's about the girl who finds out she's not a princess at all, but really just the commoner stand-in. O'Neal does a great job of capturing the mix of emotions that I imagine a teenage girl would have in this situation: abandonment, disappointment, resentment, and a little relief. I especially loved the characterization of Sinda's aunt, because it seemed like a very realistic reaction to the situations she is put in. O'Neal also spins a great plot full of twists and turns that are unpredictable yet not totally out of left field. Romance is present in this book but it's not overpowering to the plot and seems grounded in the age and maturity of the characters involved. The villain is great, explained and reasoned but surprising at the same time (and I'm not gonna spoil it for you!). I highly recommend this book for the fantasy lovers out there.