I love high fantasy and stories involving royalty, so I was incredibly excited for The Princess in the Opal Mask. And while I didn't find this book to be exactly five-star material, it was still a fun and light read!
Elara was somewhat like your typical YA heroine, but there still was a part of her that I could really connect to. Though she's not particularly physically strong, her wits always kept her on her feet and made her an entertaining character to follow. Despite her shaky start and sometimes more manipulative and colder moments, it really felt like she had the makings of a true leader. It was really encouraging to see her get through all her struggles, particularly in the beginning of the book, to get her own happy ending.
Wilha, on the other hand, was harder for me to connect to. I get that having to wear a mask is hard because it hides your true identity and what not, but it was still hard for me to sympathize with her character. Especially since Elara had gone through much worse problems, Wilha seemed a bit snobby. What's more is that even after Wilha's released from her mask, she does something that seemed, to me, incredibly selfish and a bit stupid. From my perspective, it didn't seem like she grew much by the end of the book either. As such, compared to Elara, Wilha had much less of an effect on me.
Since there's a ton of action in the story (ie.: fight scenes), the plot is much more character-driven. Because of that, I felt similarly about the storyline - while I found Elara's story totally compelling, Wilha's was, well, not as much. After a certain point in the story (specifically, when Wilha made what was in my opinion a selfish and stupid mistake), Wilha's storyline became much blander. While Elara was learning about world politics, the castle and such, Wilha's part in the storyline is smaller, focusing on her day-to-day interactions with the characters she meets. Personally, I found that that part of the story was more boring to read, considering I was expecting more politics and action in both storylines.
One last thing I'd like to mention is age group. There isn't anything particularly inappropriate, but because of the relatively simple plot structure, The Princess in the Opal Mask might appeal more to younger readers. For example, there's a "twist" involving Elara and Wilha's past that I could guess even after simply reading a few pages that ended up coming after a hundred. The storyline is also relatively simple, but also light and enjoyable enough for younger readers. Wilha's storyline might also appeal to younger readers more so than it did to I.
The Princess in the Opal Mask didn't turn out to be what I expected, but it was, nonetheless, still an extremely quick and enjoyable read. Though its plot structure made the storyline relatively predictable, it also made the story light and perfect for a weekend read. I particularly recommend this for younger YA fantasy readers or those looking for a quick fairy-tale like read.
* I received a free copy of this book for review purposes. This did not affect my opinion of the book.