Author: Nancy O’Toole
The chance for freedom
Rebecca has lived a life of restrictions. Once a scared princess, ruthlessly controlled by her older brother, she now finds herself inheriting a kingdom that never expected to have a queen. Facing the possibility of engagement to a man she cannot stand, Rebecca takes her first chance of freedom: an enchanted masquerade located beneath a trap door.
The loyal soldier
Zahir has lived a life of loss. A peerless swordsman and trained fighter, he once fought for his country. Now he only raises his blade in defense of one: his queen and dearest friend, Rebecca. But secretly, his feelings expand beyond friendship. It will take all of Zahir’s skill to protect Rebecca from the true purpose of the masquerade, a force more sinister and older than either of them expect.
Or may be able to survive.
[The Rose and the Claw (#1) Review]
A Dance with Magic is the second novel in The Twin Kingdoms series. While it is ideal to read both stories, each could potentially be read as a standalone. Kris and Rose’s story from The Rose and the Claw is referenced in this story, but a reader who has no prior knowledge can understand everything through context. The twin kingdoms refers to the dueling kingdoms of Kelvia and Verdia. The story takes place in Kelvia and includes characters from both kingdoms. It is told from duel perspectives from Rebecca and Zahir, who were both briefly introduced in the previous story.
Queen Rebecca Kelvin, daughter of King Conrad and Queen Rachel and sister to King Carlisle Kelvin, also known as the Butcher. She is also the younger sister of Carlisle’s twin brother, Kris, who is the main character of the previous novel. At 26-years-old, Rebecca has found herself as the first female ruler of Kelvia in over 400 years. The royal advisor, Lord Reginald Gallant, and her personal royal guard, Hijan-born, Zahir, surround her. To aid with bridging the gap between the two main kingdoms, Rebecca is bethrothed to a prince from Verdia. Prince Victor and Princess Viola Verdis, son and daughter of King Valiant and Queen Lavender while their older brother, Crown Prince Everett is away at another location, visit her kingdom. Victor entering the picture is one of the subplots of the novel as Zahir and Rebecca have feelings for each other, but know that her duty as a royal comes first.
As this story is a retelling of Grimms’ The Twelve Dancing Princesses, there is an additional subplot. Flashes of magic begins appearing all over Kelvia and Verdia giving Rebecca one more issue to handle as Queen. As a way to help her relax, since she loves dancing, she stumbles across a masquerade held by the Master of Ceremonies. This leads to knowledge of an existing curse that must be broken. As Rebecca and Zahir become more entangled in the mystery of the masquerade, the two subplots become weaved together. Rebecca is a more reserved personality with a quiet strength that gave her a refreshing appeal as a main character.
Overall, this was an excellent addition to the series. I greatly enjoy the story and characters, so, obviously, I wish that it were expanded into a full-length novel. I enjoyed how the author made the retelling portion her own as it was one queen at the center rather than twelve individuals. There are added mysteries and dangers introduced as possibilities for further exploration in the next novel. At the end of this novel, there is an excerpt of the first chapter for the next novel, The Wayward Tower, featuring Victor. I cannot wait to read it once it becomes available!
**I give a special thank you to Book Sirens and the author, Nancy O’Toole, for the opportunity to read this entertaining novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**