Title: Castles In Their Bones
Series: Castles In Their Bones #1
Author: Laura Sebastian
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: February 1st, 2022 (Delacorte Press)
Synopsis: Empress Margaraux has had plans for her daughters since the day they were born. Princesses Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz will be queens. And now, age sixteen, they each must leave their homeland and marry their princes.
Beautiful, smart, and demure, the triplets appear to be the perfect brides—because Margaraux knows there is one common truth: everyone underestimates a girl. Which is a grave mistake. Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz are no innocents. They have been trained since birth in the arts of deception, seduction, and violence with a singular goal—to bring down monarchies— and their marriages are merely the first stage of their mother’s grand vision: to one day reign over the entire continent of Vesteria.
The princesses have spent their lives preparing, and now they are ready, each with her own secret skill, and each with a single wish, pulled from the stars. Only, the stars have their own plans—and their mother hasn’t told them all of hers.
Life abroad is a test. Will their loyalties stay true? Or will they learn that they can’t trust anyone—not even each other?
Thank you to the publisher, Penguin Teen Canada, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
“Babies born beneath the Thorned Rose are known to be beautiful.
Those born beneath the Hungry Hawk are ambitious.
Lonely Heart children are known to sacrifice more than others.
The Crown of Flames offers its offspring power.
And the Sisters Three bestow balance and harmony.”
Beatriz, Daphne and Sophronia, the triplet princesses of Bessemia, have just turned sixteen, and it is time for them to depart to the three neighbouring kingdoms to marry their betrothed. This is the first step in a plan that has been in motion ever since they were born, for Empress Margaraux’s intent is for the sisters to turn the kingdoms against each other and incite them to war so that she can sweep in and take over, bringing the entire continent under her rule. However, things don’t go according to plan for long as the princesses arrive to royal courts rife with lies and political intrigue and as they begin to understand that they can’t trust anyone, not even each other, will they complete their missions, or break away from the plan and stand for what they feel is right?
I’ve been looking forward to this book ever since I finished the Ash Princess series, so I was extremely excited to get an ARC. While the author’s previous series was really good in terms of plot, narration and writing, I felt like there was a lot of improvement in all three areas with this book. The story as a whole seemed to flow much smoother, balancing three different POVs when there was so much going on around each of the sisters without taking away any of the steadily building tension.
The magic system is pretty straightforward, so far atleast, with the entirety of it being centered around things being fated in the stars, using stardust to make small wishes come true, while certain people known as empyreas have the power able to call down stars for bigger and more complex wishes. The world building was rather standard and beyond some basic descriptions of the defining features of each kingdom, there wasn’t much time spent on it. I felt however, that this style worked perfectly as it was neither the magic nor world building that was central to this story, but the politics. When the sisters arrive at their respective royal courts, it quickly becomes evident that the situation they trained for, to ingratiate themselves to their new homes and work from the inside will not be as cut and dry as they planned, not with the plots and conspiracies that already seem to be afoot in each court, and the many twists and turns their journeys take made this an entertaining read.
Beatriz, Daphne and Sophronia were all well developed characters. Their arcs, as they changed and grew once they were out of their mother’s control and began to question everything they had been taught and trained for, was very well written. They don’t quite have the same ruthless mindset as their mother, though some of them were more inclined to follow the plan than others, but each of their voices were very distinct and easy to identify between POVs. I particularly liked how, despite being so different, the bond between the sisters stayed strong throughout. There were some references alluding to real world history, mostly in Sophronia’s arc that I thought was a good touch as it made the story feel more realistic.
I can’t really think of anything I disliked about this book, but I hope there will be more focus on the magic in the sequel as it fell to the background for much of the story. It does appear that it might play a much more important role going forward and it would be great to see it explored in more depth since it was an intriguing system and I’m curious to know what its limits are especially given that ending.
I had started to suspect that there was a deeper plot afoot by about the 70% mark, especially when things started to go out of control for all three sisters, but the ending was a shocker I definitely did not see coming – I would say it’s one of the the best cliffhangers I’ve read in a while! The chapter from Empress Margaraux’s POV to finish the book was a phenomenal touch as it really changes things going into the next book, not to mention making the sisters’ positions all that much more dangerous. I’m so happy this is a trilogy because this is a story that has a lot of potential and I can’t wait to see what will happen in the sequel. Highly recommended for any fantasy fans!
Castles In Their Bones releases on February 1st, 2022.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
All quotes in this review were taken from an advance reader’s edition and may differ from the final version of the book.
Other reviews in this series: