The Princess in the Opal Mask, by Jenny Lundquist, was published in 2013 by Running Press.
Orphaned as a child in the crumbling village of Tulan, Elara is determined to learn her true identity, even if it means wielding a dagger. Meanwhile, in Galandria’s royal capital, Princess Wilha stands out as someone to either worship or fear. Though no one knows why the king has always made her conceal her face—including Wilha herself. When an assassination attempt threatens the peace of neighboring kingdoms, Elara and Wilha are brought face to face…with a chance at claiming new identities. However, with dark revelations now surfacing, both girls will need to decide if brighter futures are worth the binding risks.
Although not precisely a fairy tale adaptation, The Princess in the Opal Mask is basically “The Prince and the Pauper” with a few changes. I really liked the concept of the Masked Princess and the “switching places,” since I haven’t seen a lot of books do that. The world was good, too, even if some of the history revealed was a little confusing.
I thought that this book was a stand-alone when I first started reading it, but it’s actually not. Which is a pity, because I was imaging some really awesome things that Wilha and Elara could have done to make everything come full circle. Those awesome things did not happen, needless to say, and Wilha didn’t get to do anything awesome at all, really, except climb a rock staircase in the dark with plotters beneath her, so hopefully she’ll gain some assertiveness in the next book and be a bit less squishy.
It’s a tad convenient with the way the romance is heading; Lundquist is quite clearly giving everyone a clear path with no possible complications beyond the obvious coming outrage at being tricked by the switch. I would have liked to see Elara and Stefan work around the “I’m not the oldest child” obstacle, but that isn’t going to happen.
There were a few other minor things I didn’t quite like; things like writing and style and in some instances I thought Wilha was being pushed aside as a main protagonist and Elara was irritating with her “I know better than you” attitude towards Wilha. But other than that, I did enjoy the book as a whole, especially just the overall concept.
Recommended Age Range: 14+
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Like the rest of the crowd, I gasp in awe. Her mask and dress, adorned with more jewels than I can begin to count, glitter in the sunlight. A thick necklace of jeweled keys hangs around her neck. As she steps forward to take her place next to her father, several people raise their fans to cover their eyes.
“Please, Masked Princess!” The man next to me holds a gaunt little boy over his head. “My son is ill. Only look at him, and he shall be healed!”
“Healed?” shouts a haggard woman with stringy white hair. “The princess can heal no one. A curse is what she is! Raise your fans! Protect yourself from the Masked Princess!”