Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Conjurer Princess by Vivian van de Velde

The Conjurer Princess

Seventeen-year-old Beryl's wedding ends in murder when a baron abducts the bride. The church and law turn a blind eye to the abduction while Lylene, Beryl's younger sister, is left homeless and seething for vengeance. Lylene goes to a wizard for help, bargaining to learn magic. The bargain has a bitter dark side not fully explained to Lylene ... and so does Beryl.

Like the stories in Vivian Vande Velde's collection Curses, Inc., this character-driven novel has an ironic bite. Despite her good intentions, Lylene's naïvete is her undoing.

This book was brought to my attention when I read Small Review's Guest Post at Tiger Holland's All Consuming Reviews.  She wrote that one of her favorite couples was Weiland and Lylene.  Well, I had to see what she was talking about.  The love story is very shy and understated as the story is set way back in time, and yet you feel the blossoming of something between them.  They go through a lot together.  It isn't insta love.  In fact, in the beginning it's insta hate between the two.  But they are thrown together to survive and I think their reliance on each other, their shared experiences and losses, their shared anger all bring them together.  There is no big romantic declaration and yet at the end, you can see that the truce between them is something more.

The story is a great one and a quick read and one tweeners and adults would love.  Here is Lylene watching her sister get married to the boy who proposed to her when he was a youngster after her sister demanded he do so.  It was always assumed they'd marry.  Lylene is standing between the children's group and the adult's trying to decide which group she belongs in.  All of the sudden they are attacked after the vows are made and  Randall, the groom, is killed.  Beryl the bride is swooped up, Lylene's aunt tries to stop the brute who takes her and she gets a boot to the chest three times and dies from her injuries.  The Baron that kidnapped her marries Beryl and claims Randall's lands and Lylene is left homeless and penniless.  She's hellbent and determined to rescue her sister.  So she demands that a wizard teach her all he knows about wizardry.  He reluctantly agrees and she works as a maid to pay for his services.  But he doesn't teach her until one fateful night.  In an instant he teaches her and finds that she has only the power to duplicate things that don't last long and the magic has an unfortunate consequence.

Lylene is resourceful though and conjures a gold piece to secure a room for the night at an inn.  She's fine until the gold piece disappears.  She's in real trouble until she spies the chivalrous, but very inebriated Shile and the very unwilling Weiland across the room.  They take up her cause killing a few men and take off with her making camp hours later.  Her ability comes in handy when they are ambushed, but Weiland has a thing against magic.  He keeps his distance from her.

They find the castle where her sister is being kept and all is not as Lylene thought.  Trouble, big trouble happens and Lylene almost shoots her sister with an arrow.  Lylene escapes the castle with her companion much wiser to the ways of the world.

It was a bittersweet story and like I said the love story wasn't what you might expect.  It was chivalrous I'd say.  Weiland is a true gentleman and does what he promised to do.  He's a great companion to her and I wish the author had continued their story.  But I'm satisfied with the ending.  You just know there is an HEA.

Vivian Vande Velde was a prolific writer.  I plan to read more of her stories.  Plenty are available on Paperback Swap and on Amazon.  I recommend her stories.  They are fairy tales, but not always the light fare you might expect.

Heather in Sandwich


  1. Great review Heather!

    I like would be fairy tales where the to lovers in question hate each other when they first meet. There's something incredibly adorable about it to me. *sighs dreamily*


  2. I do like my Happily Ever After stories, especially with a chivalrous male character. Sometimes that's all a girl needs. :)

  3. Yay! I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I wish she had written more about their relationship too. There is a short story in the bindup edition that follows them after the events of The Conjurer Princess.

    I think it's spelled Shile, but I'm not sure. I always have to look up the spellings of their names.

  4. Sounds great. I like shy and understated love stories. This one reminds me of Poison Study, for some reason - even though the books are completely different.

  5. Oooooo love the sound of this one! No insta love? That's enough to make me want to read it right there! I'm always a fan of the adversarial-turned-romantic plotline, and this sounds like it does that in a very sweet and entertaining way. I hadn't heard of this one before so thanks for this review Heather!

  6. Jenny- You'll have to thank Small Review for this one. I had never seen it. She turned me on to it. Now, this isn't typical YA fare. It's simple and readable in an hour or two. And your emotions will be all over the place.

    Alison- It's a simple little story. Lylene can't even read, but don't get your knickers in a wad, she's a strong female lead!

    Book Sake @ Amateur Voice- It is a HEA but it's not your typical love story so just don't expect that. Hope you give it a try!

    Thanks Small!


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