The Stolen Kingdom by Jillian Boehme is a unique young adult fantasy. In the Stolen Kingdom, we follow Maralyth who discovers her secret heritage. We also follow Prince Alac who wants to save himself from a family curse.
From Good Reads:
For a hundred years, the once-prosperous kingdom of Perin Faye has suffered under the rule of the greedy and power-hungry Thungrave kings. Maralyth Graylaern, a vintner’s daughter, has no idea her hidden magical power is proof of a secret bloodline and claim to the throne. Alac Thungrave, the king’s second son, has always been uncomfortable with his position as the spare heir—and the dark, stolen magic that comes with ruling.
When Maralyth becomes embroiled in a plot to murder the royal family and seize the throne, a cat-and-mouse chase ensues in an adventure of dark magic, court intrigue, and forbidden love.
“You’re brave and kind, which is more than I can say for most people.”
This book genuinely took me by surprise. The summary had me somewhat worried that a forbidden romance plot would be frustrating, as I find they often are. This was not the case. Even in the introduction of Mara and Alac, I had concerns about insta-love. This could have gone so many trope-y ways and the author did a fantastic job at preventing that. Mara and Alac’s romantic relationship was genuinely very sweet. Neither of them were toxic. Both of their arguments for their sides were sound. You want this couple to be together, and you want them both to win. On their own, Alac and Mara stand as very strong characters. Alac’s best friend, Tucker, is also a very interesting side character. However, all the other supporting characters didn’t feel memorable. This led to my forgetting who was involved in what parts of this royal coup.
“Something nameless shifted inside me, as though it were making room for him.”
There were moments when the pacing of this book felt a bit off. In the beginning, reading about Mara washing dishes and hating it, and the conversations of what a woman should and shouldn’t do- I found myself bored. This was concerning as it was the beginning of the story, and I was afraid it would stay this way. However, the pacing redeemed itself when she finds out who she is. There are other moments where the general timeline seemed a bit drawn out unnecessarily. This is a bit of a concern for people who have attention and focus issues because if the pacing doesn’t remain consistent, I know it can lead to people putting a book down and forgetting about it.
“I didn’t want to lose myself to the darkness. But even more, I didn’t want to perpetuate the same heartless rule of my Father and all the Thungrave kings before him.”
The magic in this world felt akin to the wine magic in The Vine Witch, with its own unique twist. I appreciated that the rules around magic and such weren’t too complex and part of the process of the plot was discovering how it all worked. I think this worked well for this story and allowed for it to be understood easily. Overall, I found this story really fascinating, and the plot was genuinely much more interesting in action than the summary leads you to believe!
“Every word poised on my tongue felt like it would lumber forth with a clumsiness that would let the world know that this girl unraveled me.”
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.