A Necklace of Souls,
by R L Stedman (HarperCollins, RRP $25):
Dana is a princess in the hidden Kingdom of the Rose, a sheltered, magical land that allows no war or disease to penetrate its borders.
Protected by the Guardian – always a woman of the royal family who pays a terrible price – the kingdom is eternally at peace.
However, Dana is special. Not just a princess, or the heir to the Guardian, Dana dreams true dreams of events and people who have set their sights on the hidden kingdom. Working with Will, the humble baker’s assistant and N’tombe, her tutor, can Dana save everything that she loves?
A Necklace of Souls is the first novel by R L Stedman and it’s a pretty enjoyable read. It’s a Young Adult fantasy novel with a strong female protagonist, and there can never be too many of those.
Dana is very much a teenage girl as well – she’s self- absorbed and temperamental, which is always good to see, even though it makes Dana as a character slightly annoying.
Will is your quintessential Nice Boy who comes into his own by virtue of learning how to fight and of course he falls in love with the princess. What’s really refreshing is there’s no third party in sight, so no love triangle.
The world-building of the kingdom is strong and you get a sense of history and of impending danger when the land’s borders are threatened.
The action in the book moves along at a pretty speedy pace, but it never feels rushed. It feels pretty balanced, and it’s the kind of book I would have liked to pick up when I was a teen reader.