A Crown of Coral and Pearl – Mara Rutherford ARC review

For this weeks review I’m talking about A Crown of Coral and Pearl. In a society where beauty determines worth two girls who refuse to let the world tell them who they are and what they can do.

This book is a young adult novel for fans of strong female leads.

Special thank you to Harlequin Australia Publishing for giving me an advance review copy of this book!

What’s the book about?

Nor and Zadie were raised to believe their primary purpose in life was to be chosen to honour their families by being the next Ilarian princess.

For many generations the princes of Ilaria have married beautiful young women from the ocean village of Varenia. But becoming royalty can carry a cost higher than any of the maidens could possibly imagine…

Nor dreamed of seeing the world, a dream that only being chosen could realise. But a permanent scar on her face means that it is her sister Zadie that will have that honour.

When an unfortunate accident occurs Nor must take her sisters place as princess of Ilara. Sent to marry a prince whose coldness could only be matched by his palace, carved into the face of a mountain. Nor is distraught, even more so by her feelings for her fiancés brother.

However, Nor’s unique position allows her to learn things she would never have dreamed possible from her ocean home.

She soon uncovers A plot of a murdered queen, a failing bloodline and a plan to decimate her people back home. In order to navigate this new world, and save her people, Nor must act. But how?

What I liked about this book:

This book had great family dynamics. The relationship between Nor and her sister Zadie was beautiful. The sisters were real with one another, sharing their strengths and weaknesses with understanding.

With the fixation on beauty I thought this book did a good job on commenting about the objectifying of women and negativity. A fixation on physical appearance can be destructive to relationships. In particular I appreciated Nor and Zadie’s dislike of being compared to one another for physical attractiveness.

This book has strong female characters who fight for what they believe in. Primary and secondary characters do this in different ways.

I really liked the world building in this novel. Varenia captured my imagination, as did the rest of the world. The author’s descriptions of the world were entrancing. There seems to be a lot more of the world to explore, as well as the different people groups in the world. I’m intrigued and want to know more about this land and the unfolding politics within it.

The author of A Crown of Coral and Pearl, Mara Rutherford, has said on Goodreads that this book is currently only a one book deal. There is however a strong possibility of a sequel.

I’m certainly hoping there is, as I want to know more about this world and it’s characters!

What I liked least about this book?

As I mentioned above, it was really good to have the book make a stance against beauty not being all people are about.

However, I did find it undercut that point a little when all of the good characters were attractive. Those that were bad were primarily described as repulsive. Whether that’s physically or in personality or actions. Villains are often described across literature in this way.

I thought the villain in A Crown of Coral and Pearl was really interesting and chilling!

Side note… Who are your favourite literary villains? Comment below to let me know!

While this book might’ve fallen into the trope of having all the characters be beautiful people with very minimal flaws. There was also a bit of the ‘Love at first sight’ cliché. Overall it was fine and the author did attempt to minimise these tropes.

This was a really enjoyable read and I don’t have much really to comment about for this section!


For fans of strong young adult female characters, this book is for you. The beauty pagant element of the story is very strong and reminded me somewhat of the biblical story of Queen Esther. Elements of this book reminded me of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and The Selection series by Kiara Cass.

If you’re not a fan of young adult or YA books involving politics and romance this may not be the book for you.

Where can I get a copy?A Crown of Coral and Pearl comes out in a few days on 19th of August 2019! You can pick up a copy in stores from then. Pre-order your copy from Book Depository here.

Who is your favourite female book character? Why? Comment below to let me know! Mine would probably be Hadassah from The Voice in the Wind series by Francine Rivers. I found her strength in the face of persecution, and temptations of all kinds inspiring.

If you enjoyed todays review please consider subscribing, commenting or liking this post. Thank you! If you have instagram I can be found @stephhuddlestonwriting.


  1. Virginia says:

    Steph, I also loved Hadassah’s character & persevering love! Another favorite female series lead is David Weber’s Honor Harrington, beginning with ‘On Basilik Station’ & through piles of books as she progresses from captain in the Royal Manticoran Navy (space force) to Admiral… riveting reading of a leader I could follow! I also am a long-time groupie of Miss Marple… 📚🌟😎🌟📚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Virginia, lovely to hear from you about your favourite characters! It’s nice to hear from another Francine Rivers fan. Hadassah is certainly inspiring!
      I’ll have to check out David Weber’s books, they sound wonderful. Thank you for the recommendation!

      Oh Miss Marple is fantastic! I haven’t delved into the books too much as yet but it’s on my to read list! As is Phyrne Fisher from Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries by Kelly Greenwood.

      Liked by 1 person

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