"Desmia discovers the reality of royalty is far from a fairy tale in this third adventure set in the Cinderella-esque world of Just Ella and Palace of Mirrors, from New York Times bestselling author Margaret Peterson Haddix.
Desmia and her twelve sister-princesses are ruling Suala together at last, a united front. The kingdom seems to have finally gotten its happily ever after, but Desmia, trained by a lifetime of palace intrigue, is not so sure. She desperately wants to believe all is well, but she can’t help seeing danger around every corner.
And then the unthinkable happens, and Desmia’s worst fears are confirmed. Now, without the support of the sister-princesses she’s grown to rely on or the trappings of royalty that have always convinced people to listen to her, Desmia must find the courage to seek out the truth on her own terms—and to determine the course of two kingdoms."
Carolyn's thoughts on the book:
Warning: There may be spoilers for Palace of Mirrors. You have been duly warned.
As a fan of Margaret Peterson Haddix, I was overjoyed to discover that she would be publishing a third book in the Palace Chronicles. While the first book, Just Ella, is a smart and realistic take on the Cinderella story, the second book also turns a common fantasy trope on its head. Focusing on another country within the same universe, Palace of Mirrors follows Cecelia, who has been taught her entire life to believe that she's the secretly hidden heir to the throne...until she arrives at the palace only to realize that twelve other girls have the exact same story. Better yet, Desmia, the princess who supposedly was a stand-in to protect the real princess from harm, believes that she's the real princess. Filled with political intrigue, Palace of Mirrors ends happily with the thirteen princesses sharing rule in a monarchy/oligarchy arrangement. I knew that the story didn't end there, though. I always thought that Desmia had it the worst - used as a pawn by her royal advisor her entire life and then suddenly discovering twelve other girls have an equal claim to the throne wouldn't exactly be easy - and so her story seemed the most interesting to me, so naturally I was thrilled when I heard the third installment would focus on her story.
Palace of Lies picks up a month after the end of Palace of Mirrors. While the princesses have settled into the political arrangement, Desmia finds it hard to deal with such a large group of girls, especially as she's the only one who's had to face scheming courtiers and backstabbing advisors before. Her cynicism and suspicion prove to be a barrier to relating to her sisters, as she feels that she's the only one who can see what's actually going on. Desmia's relational problems within the group setting are intensely relatable, as she has to explain that she's the only one who really knows how to handle delicate political situations while deftly avoiding group politics - no easy feat. But when a calculated attack separates Desmia from her sisters and from the palace, she finds herself venturing forth into the world to save herself, her sisters, and her country in a soul-searching and heartfelt journey to to find her allies in a neighboring kingdom. Throughout the novel, Desmia discovers the world outside of palace, as well as a long-lost relative, and finds a sense of courage and determination. Her character development is brilliantly accomplished, taking into consideration Desmia's unique skills and flaws that resulted from her isolated childhood (such as her agoraphobia or her propensity to pick locks). The cast of characters is vast and varied, bringing back many of the characters from the previous two books, as well as adding some fantastic new characters. Desmia's story and her voice as a character shine in Palace of Lies.
Palace of Lies is great for fans of fairy-tales and those who enjoy Haddix's excellent writing.
Carolyn is a teen blogger who shares her favorite YA reads and favorite book related finds with readers on Fridays.