Twin Crowns (Twin Crowns #1)
Catherine Doyle and Katherine Webber
Balzer + Bray
Published May 17, 2022
About Twin Crowns
Wren Greenrock has always known that one day she would steal her sister’s place in the palace. Trained from birth to return to the place of her parents’ murder and usurp the only survivor, she will do anything to rise to power and protect the community of witches she loves. Or she would, if only a certain palace guard wasn’t quite so distractingly attractive, and if her reckless magic didn’t have a habit of causing trouble…
Princess Rose Valhart knows that with power comes responsibility. Marriage into a brutal kingdom awaits, and she will not let a small matter like waking up in the middle of the desert in the company of an extremely impertinent (and handsome) kidnapper get in the way of her royal duty. But life outside the palace walls is wilder and more beautiful than she ever imagined, and the witches she has long feared might turn out to be the family she never knew she was missing.
Two sisters separated at birth and raised into entirely different worlds are about to get to know each other’s lives a whole lot better. But as coronation day looms closer and they each strive to claim their birthright, the sinister Kingsbreath, Willem Rathborne, becomes increasingly determined that neither will succeed. Who will ultimately rise to power and wear the crown?
Catherine Doyle’s Storm Keeper series is one of my favorite middle grade series ever, so when I saw that she was co-authoring this new YA series, I knew I had to check it out. Bonus: it’s about sisters! My favorite kind of story.
To start, I really liked the premise, and both Wren and Rose as characters. I felt like they were both pretty believable in the roles they’d grown up in. They were also different yet similar enough that I had no problem believing they were sisters.
I liked the pace of the story, too. At first it looks like Wren’s challenge will be keeping up the charade that she’s Princess Rose for thirty whole days. Then, when she realizes the kingsbreath’s true plan, the pressure reverses, so that it feels like she’s right up against a deadline with so much to do to stop her enemy and take the throne.
I only stumbled over a couple of things. One is the balance of romance to the quest for the crown. I think I expected the romance to be more of a subplot and to have the girls and their adventure be more centerstage. There were moments when I felt like the romance kind of overshadowed what was happening in a way that pulled me away from the rest of the story.
The politics also tripped me up a little bit. The story really builds up the strong prejudice against witches. They’re executed if found. People pray to the Protector if they think they’ve seen one. People worry they’ve been cursed if they have a string of bad circumstances. Those bad feelings seemed to unravel really easily, though. I found that hard to believe after the initial setup.
Honestly, all it meant for me was that I turned up my suspension of disbelief, because I really enjoyed the sisterhood and the magic and adventure elements that made up the rest of the story. I’m definitely going to continue on with this series.
Recommended for Ages 14 up.
Major characters are white. Shen is from a desert kingdom. Celeste has brown skin. She and a couple other minor characters are queer.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used very infrequently.
Kissing between boy and girl. Brief reference to sexual arousal. In one scene, a boy takes off his shirt and a girl loosens her dress as they make out.
Wren and other characters have the ability to perform magic and are called witches. Rose’s people worship the Great Protector, a historical figure they’re taught saved them from the witches. In her kingdom, witches are executed.
Situations of peril. A boy battles a giant beetle. A girl tries to kill another by stealing her breath and using wind to shove her off a cliffside. A girl relives memories from a battle long ago and watches as witches are slain on the battlefield. References to the torture of witches. A man kills a woman by cutting her throat. A battle destroys a building and kills several people present. A leopard attacks a girl, severely wounding her.
Some characters drink alcohol until they’re drunk.
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