The Stolen Kingdom, the second young adult fantasy novel by Franklin writer Jillian Boehme, offers an exciting story of magic, betrayal, and destiny.
For many years under the Dallowyn dynasty, the kingdom of Perin Faye was a happy, prosperous place to live because the Dallowyns were divinely anointed with magic. But a century ago, this special power was stolen from the Dallowyn ruler. Untethered from its rightful owner, the magic spread throughout the kingdom, leaving misery and destruction in its wake. Selmar Thungrave I was able to capture it, setting the stage for a lineage of Thungraves to contain the magic and rule the land. Ever since, the Thungraves have ruled cruelly and selfishly, and the magic has been a slow, corrupting force, turning their hearts dark.
Maralyth Graylaern, known as Mara, lives with her father and brother on Graylaern Vineyards. Despite supplying Perin Faye’s favorite wines, they barely scrape by, thanks to the unnecessarily burdensome taxes instituted by their feudal kingdom. One reason Graylaern Vineyards is able to achieve its success, however, is Mara’s secret connection to the vineyard and to the earth. Not even her father and brother know about Mara’s power. “They didn’t know I whispered to the grapes to make them ripen plump and juicy. They never saw my hands banishing rot from vines before death took hold.”
Since her mother’s death a few years ago, Mara has found herself stuck in the role of cooking for the vineyard employees, though her heart lies with the vineyard itself, working with the plants she loves and knows so well. Reluctantly, she fulfills her duty, but that doesn’t stop her from sneaking off to the vineyard and making future plans of her own.
Like Mara, Alac Thungrave longs for a different existence. The second-born son of the tyrannical King Selmar II, Alac has felt overlooked and invisible his whole life. “I was nothing more than a spare, and neither [my father or brother] let me forget it.” Knowing he will never be king, and having no desire to fill that role, Alac harbors secret dreams of opening a vineyard of his own and escaping the suffocating castle life.
Alac and Mara’s lives are set in motion to collide when Mara is kidnapped for a secret plot to take down the Thungrave dynasty once and for all. The dangerous Lord Nelgareth has been planning a coup for many years, and Mara is the final puzzle piece: a Dallowyn heir. That Mara is a Dallowyn is a secret her mother kept from her. She is a direct descendant of the Dallowyn kings, and her magic proves it: “Only those springing forth from the direct Dallowyn line have the magic… and no other.” Mara is forced into Lord Nelgareth’s plot against the crown and consequently meets Alac.
Nelgareth’s plan is to assassinate the Thungraves and make Mara queen, whether she wants it or not. But as the story continues and she gets to know Alac, Mara will have to decide: Does she take part in the treasonous plot to reclaim her birthright? Or risk saying no?
Boehme’s beautiful language forms vivid pictures that place readers right alongside Mara and Alac as they find their way through the convoluted conspiracies and interconnected webs around them, plots mired in secrets and betrayal. She creates characters readers will care about, and the unexpected turns are bound to keep fantasy fans riveted, eyes glued to the page.
Anna West is a writer in Middle Tennessee.
Tagged: Book Reviews