The Stolen Kingdom – Jillian Boehme – Tor Teen – Published 2 March 2021
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 cacao farmer’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.
I love stand-alone fantasy novels and The Stolen Kingdom is a fantastic example. It has everything you need from a complete trilogy or series: the intrigue and political scheming; romance which moves from enemies to reluctant allies to someone the other can wholly depend on; and there is also magic.
Maralyth Graylaern is the daughter of a renown vintners. She has a head for business and a heart for making a difference to others. Ever since her mother died, Maralyth has been confined to the kitchen, except for when she can make a quiet trip to the vines and use her secret magic to help them flourish.
Alac is a spare. His brother is set to inherit the thrown and Alac will only inherit should something happen to his brother. Alac wants no part in ruling the kingdom or the dark magic that forever changed him, but his father seems determined to teach Alac the ways of the dark magic and Alac is surprised by the pull it has on him.
Maralyth and Alac are both heirs in their own way. Yet, neither are prepared for taking over the kingdom nor did either dream they ever would. Maralyth has dreams of being a business woman and making conditions better for small wineries. Alac dreams of becoming a vineyard owner and finally escaping the shadow of his father, the memories of who his father was before being consumed by the magic and the darkness that seems to pervade the castle. When Maralyth is unwilling drawn into a plot to overthrow the king, she has to choose to step up to her destiny and equally Alac must decide how much the crown really means to him.
I thought the wine making aspect an interesting and original addition to the story. It gave both characters an instant connection -despite them not being able to talk about it much due to the secrets between them. It also gave the characters depth as they have this unique interest and are not just generic fantasy characters.
I do rather enjoy a haters to lovers romance, but Maralyth and Alac are not really enemies – or at least Alac doesn’t know Maralyth is planning to kill him and his family. And Maralyth, while not supportive of the current ruling regime, doesn’t hate Alac, in fact she rather likes him and has to constantly (and I do mean constantly) remind herself to not like him.
The Stolen Kingdom is a great standalone fantasy for readers to enjoy.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction
Themes: Magic, family, royalty, vineyards, wine making, romance.
Reading age guide: Ages 13 and up.
Advisory: Vague sexual references. Occasional coarse language, p*** (1). Violence, murder, death, kidnapping.
Published: 2 March 2021 by Tor Teen
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 336 pages.