I received a free copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
I really liked the cover, it is simple yet effective, because people do judge a book on it's cover (at least if they don't know anything else about it).
Mae is -secretly- the craftborn, the one person in the realm who has the ability to restore magic to its former glory (and will marry the crown prince). Mae is a poor girl, ignored by everyone in the village except her dad. (Her mother is -surprisingly- dead). When another girl from her tiny, tiny village is found to be the craftborn, the prince himself comes to collect her, but before that can actually happen, terrible thing happen.
To avenge her father and save the 'craftborn', Mae and the prince (please recall, she is a very poor girl who's never had the chance to train social skills) go - on their own - on a quest in the haunted magical forest 'The Waerg Woods'...
OK, I couldn't stand Mae. She is - as I mentioned before - very poor, though she acts more arrogant and spoilt than Casimir, who's the Crown prince! That doesn't make a lot of sense, especially when Mae keeps saying how spoilt Casimir is and everything. One of her better qualities is saving Casimir, because, hell, he needs a lot of saving! (Don't let him wander alone for more than two minutes).
She's also far too proud. There are multiple occasions where her being the craftborn could have easily saved the two of them, but she is too proud to use it because he laughed at her. Silly girl!(show spoiler)
Onto the world. We don't get to know too much about it. What I wondered though, it is probably changed in the final version of this book (I haven't been able to check), but there is a great inconsistency in the name of the realm. Aegunlund is most common, but there's also Agenlund and Aegunland?
The Waerg Woods are haunted and creepy. Or so we're told. No one dares enter except - of course - Mae. The woods reminded my of the clock-arena in Catching Fire. It's divided into little parts, each of which have special threats for you. (Think fog, rain, animals etc). There's also a clicking monster, who's apparently not bound by any boundaries.
The story is not that original. It's a series of getting caught, escape, getting caught, escape etc. A lot happens very fast, so there isn't really time for a lot of details, background story or real character development. Mae doesn't learn to be less arrogant, either. Some of her decisions seem so weird to me, that it was hard for me to see them as part of the story rather than being a plot device to come to the end of the story. Which isn't really an ending! It just starts to get excited from this point, I believe. I don't mind reading trilogies and I don't need full closure at the end of a book, but this seems just like it ended somewhere halfway, with an enormous cliffhanger...