Rosemarie is content with life in the humble kingdom of Ardela. But Mache, her brother, believes they need to align with the bigger and wealthier nation of Yurinela so he promises her hand in marriage to Reynol, Yurinela’s mysterious young Prince. Not a girl to just go along with such an arrangement, Rosemarie decides to get a peek at this Prince and maybe sabotage the wedding plans while she’s at it. Assuming the identity of “Marie,” she shows up at the Prince’s castle as a maid and begins her role as a spy. But could it turn out that Reynol is not the ogre she imagined?
A strong female lead is a great way to pull me into a story, but add interesting supporting characters, and a premise that’s simple but layered, and you’ve got me hooked! A Tale of an Unknown Country does all of this, creating a fun read.
I love reading stories with strong female characters, and Rosemarie, Princess of the small, relatively poor country of Ardela is exactly that. She isn’t your average princess. Outspoken and impulsive, Rosemarie doesn’t take the announcement of her betrothal lightly. When we first meet her, she is disguised as the Princess’ maid, sent ahead to prepare things for her arrival in Yurinela. Her real goal is to meet Reynol and decide for herself if the marriage would be a good idea. Rumors about Reynol make her doubtful. Even though Mache seems to have some control over Rosemarie’s life, she seems just as determined to keep some control over it.
Reynol, the prince of Yurinela, a country not only wealthier than Ardela, but also more technologically advanced, turned out to be a good match for Rosemarie. It’s a sort of “opposites attract” kind of situation between them. Rosemarie comes from a country where the natural world is important. Rosemarie herself represents this with a warm and personable personality. Reynol, coming from a country that is covered in a dome and the weather is controlled, has a cooler, more stand-offish personality. But both find traits in the other endearing and bring them close together. They turn out to compliment each other nicely.
Throughout this volume, we are introduced to other characters, that are meant to be obstacles in their budding relationship, and competition for their affections. Maylina and Reynol’s personal secretary Turk are the first to appear. Maylina tries the same stunt Rosemarie did, posing as a made, but she can’t pull it off for more than a few minutes. Rosemarie’s kindness so wins the other princess over in believing she is a good match for Reynol. Turk takes longer, as he resists, so it’s Reynol that breaks him down. Rosemarie’s childhood friend Yunos arrives next, trying to use his previous relationship with Rosemarie to get between them. But Rosemarie won’t see Yunos as anything more than a friend, and he is forced to admit defeat. Their attempts to dissuade the couple are believable and they don’t pose any real threat to their relationship. That honor goes to Mache.
All throughout this title Mache is shown as a master manipulator. He seems to know exactly how everyone around him will react, seems to have planned everything, and encourages all the obstacles in Rosemarie’s and Reynol’s way. His control however, seems too perfect. I found it hard to believe every time he proclaimed things turned out exactly how he planned it. And at the very end, things go just too far for my liking. Even though it all ends happily, it wasn’t very satisfying thanks to Mache.
The art of this title is cute, but a bit on the generic side. It’s weaker at the beginning, but gradually gets better as the chapters go one. This first volume covers a full arc, with Rosemarie’s and Reynol’s trials to win everyone’s approval for their marriage. And the way the volume ends, it could almost be a standalone title.
A Tale of An Unknown Country is fun read with some romance and drama, but not enough to be overly dramatic. It’s a light read that Tweens and up will enjoy.
Review copy provided by publisher.