Hodder’s in for a great month of new releases in February. Not just this one, but also Only a Monster (reviewed HERE) and The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea, which is much beloved even if it didn’t quite work for me, are all coming out in the same month, and it’s very exciting! Castles in Their Bones shows Laura Sebastian’s talent for building rich worlds, strong female leads and an affinity to take risks other authors would have shied away from.
Many thanks to Kate Keehan and Hodderscape for the eARC. All opinions are my own.
RELEASE DATE: 01/02/2022
STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶
SUMMARY: The plot: overthrow a kingdom. The goal: world domination. The plan: marriage.
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 Vestria.
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? (from Hodder)
OPINIONS: I hate to utter the word reading slump. But I have been struggling a bit to get excited about the books I’m reading, and I’m once again starting far too many and then just starting a new one next time I pick up a book. And while I do eventually finish them, I never really get immersed. Not so with Castles in Their Bones. Slightly aided by a lazy day due to Booster side effects, I raced through the 500-odd pages of this epic fantasy in a few hours, and I already want more. I especially loved the ending – I think Laura Sebastian made some great choices that not every author would have had the guts to go through with – one that sets up strong character arcs for the next book in the series.
The three princesses, Sophronia, Daphne and Beatriz start out as sort of an entity, but as the story goes on, they really develop into their own characters and the differences between the sisters become clear. They are not damsels, but manipulators, though it soon becomes clear that they may not be in control as much as they believe themselves to be. I did feel like the side characters did not get quite as much attention as the triplets, and, for example, their respective spouses/fiancés were not as well-rounded as the girls themselves. It did sometimes feel like they were interchangeable almost. But ultimately, it didn’t diminish my reading experience.
In terms of plot, the story was compelling, if not fully surprising. I think the best way to describe Castles in Their Bones is as a comfort read – taking on enough of the familiar beats of YA epic fantasy to create an atmosphere of recognition in some ways, while also taking them and twisting them into something of its own. It is reasonably fast paced, which adds to the compulsive readability. For me, this will be a book I’m going to reread, because it’s perfect to curl up with under a blanket and sip on a mug of tea or hot choc. Because I too have castles in my bones.