Monday, 2 July 2012

Audiobook Review: The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal

First released: 25th January 2011
By: Listening Library

Audiobook length: 10 hr and 52 min
Narrator: Mandy Williams

Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia has led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when she learns, just after her 16th birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city, her best friend, Kiernan, and the only life she's ever known.

Sent to live with her only surviving relative, Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks. Then she discovers that long-suppressed, dangerous magic runs through her veins, and she realizes that she will never learn to be just a simple village girl. Sinda returns to the city to seek answers. Instead, she rediscovers the boy who refused to forsake her, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor's history forever.

An intricately plotted and completely satisfying adventure, The False Princess is both an engaging tale in the tradition of great fantasy novels and a story never told before that will enchant - and surprise - its listeners.

My review:

I love it when a plan comes together. The False Princess contains many of my favourite things - princesses, castles, magic, secrets - but what tips it over from the like boat into the love boat for me, is that it's an extremely well plotted novel. Like a jigsaw puzzle, every little piece - even those that initially seem insignificant and throwaway - is fit together into a smart and satisfying conclusion.

The revelation about Sinda happens in the first chapter and the false princess is quickly on her way to her new life. Sinda is a quiet character and doesn't jump off the page, but she's very well drawn and sympathetic. I thought it was a nice touch to show that even in the drabbest part of Sinda's life (living a meagre life with her aunt in a small village), she's shown to work hard and do her best. I didn't read the synopsis for this audiobook, so I was actually surprised when Sinda discovered her own powers and was genuinely thrilled for her, because she really deserves it.

There's a wonderful cast of supporting characters, too. There's Kiernan, Sinda's childhood best friend who's eternally loyal to her; Philantha, her eccentric magic tutor and a special mention goes to the other princess, Orianne. I really liked that instead of resenting each other, the princesses were bonded by their unusual circumstances.

I also want to give a shout-out to the gorgeous names in this book! They really give The False Princess  the full 'magical fantasy' feel. People names like Nalia, Philantha and Orianne and place names like Vivaskari and Thorvaldor are brilliantly evocative. I'm glad I listened to the audio so I could get the right pronunciations (I'm sure I would have butchered them terribly if left to decide them myself).

I didn't fall in love with Mandy Williams's voice, but I mostly enjoyed listening to her narration. She does very well with a variety of female voices, injecting them with personality, but she's not as good at male voices and tends to put on the stereotypical deep-throaty voice thing. I think I'll swoon for Kiernan more when I read this again in hardback and can make up any voice I want for him.

Yes, I'm planning to read this again. I just really enjoyed it; there's something so pleasing about a novel where everything wraps up the way it should. If you're looking for a smartly-written fantasy with a great plot and charming characters, then I strongly recommend you try The False Princess.

Rating: 4.5 stars


  1. great review. I dot listen to many audio books, have to check some out soon :)

  2. You should try more audiobooks! They're a great way to squeeze in more reading time when you're doing mindless tasks like cleaning, walking, etc.

  3. I read, like, the first chapter of this one a while ago and didn't get into it. But after reading your review, I really want to give the book another shot!

    1. You should! The story changes dramatically after the first chapter.

  4. Oh my gosh, I adore your review! There are so many things I want to comment on... let's see *scrolls up*

    Yes! Exactly like a jigsaw puzzle! I loved when things started coming together. That's one of my favorite things for an author to do, and Eilis O'Neal pulled it off fabulously!

    I liked that the princesses bonded, too. I was expecting them to be against one another, but I like what the author did so much more (it also made *THAT* scene more powerful and shocking).

    I agree about the names for things. It very strongly evoked that fantasy feel I love. Of course, I read the book and totally butchered all of the names, I'm sure :)

    "tends to put on the stereotypical deep-throaty voice thing"

    hehehe I know just what you're talking about :P Messes with my swoon, too!

    1. Small, you always seem to say the right things when I'm feeling apathetic about blogging and reviewing. I love your comment so much and I first saw this book on your blog, so thank you for introducing me to it!

    2. Aw, well, please keep blogging! I love your reviews *HUGS*


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