Thanks so much to TBR and Beyond Tours for having me on the blog tour for Castles in Their Bones! Darker than I anticipated and wholly engrossing, I can see this book making it into my favourite reads of the year. Make sure to click the graphic below to view all the tour stops and check out everyone’s amazing posts!
Laura Sebastian was born and raised in South Florida (the Redlands and Key Largo) and has always loved telling stories–many apologies to her little brother who often got in trouble because of them. She got her BFA in Performing Arts from Savannah College of Art and Design before realizing she preferred the other side of storytelling.
When Laura isn’t writing, she’s probably reading, cooking/baking, or buying more clothes than her overstuffed closet can fit. She currently lives in London with her two dogs, Neville and Circe.
Her New York Times Bestselling series, Ash Princess, is out now from Delacorte (Penguin Random House. Keep an eye out for her debut adult fantasy book, Half Sick Of Shadows, out Summer 2021, and the first book in her new YA series, Castles In Their Bones.
Castles in Their Bones (Castles in Their Bones #1) by Laura Sebastian
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publishing Date: February 1, 2022
A spellbinding story of three princesses and the destiny they were born for: seduction, conquest, and the crown. Immerse yourself in the first book in a new fantasy trilogy from the author of the New York Times bestselling Ash Princess series.
Empress Margaraux has had plans for her daughters since the day they were born. Princesses Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz will be queens. And now, age sixteen, they each must leave their homeland and marry their princes.
Beautiful, smart, and demure, the triplets appear to be the perfect brides—because Margaraux knows there is one common truth: everyone underestimates a girl. Which is a grave mistake. Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz are no innocents. They have been trained since birth in the arts of deception, seduction, and violence with a singular goal—to bring down monarchies— and their marriages are merely the first stage of their mother’s grand vision: to one day reign over the entire continent of Vesteria.
The princesses have spent their lives preparing, and now they are ready, each with her own secret skill, and each with a single wish, pulled from the stars. Only, the stars have their own plans—and their mother hasn’t told them all of hers.
Life abroad is a test. Will their loyalties stay true? Or will they learn that they can’t trust anyone—not even each other?
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review & can confirm all thoughts and opinions are my own.
When Empress Margaraux learned she was being graced with Triplets, she put into place a chain of events that would impact the whole of Vesteria. On reaching their 16th birthdays’s Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz will travel to neighbouring Kingdoms to marry their Princes and Kings, using all the skills their mother taught them, not to bring peace to the Empire, but to bring it all crashing down. They each have their own specific skill that will ensure their Kingdom comes toppling down, but life doesn’t always go to plan. The Princesses struggle to bring down the lives of people they are coming to care for, desperate to please their mother, but also unwilling to end innocent lives. But their mother has kept a secret from them, one that will change their lives forever.
Castles in Their Bones is told from three POV’s: Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz. Sophronia, or Sophie is the weakest of the triplets, at least according to their mother. Ever since she was told of her betrothal to King Leopold they have exchanged letters, letters that have allowed her to come to care for a man she has never met. But Sophie knows that isn’t allowed, that she can’t risk loving someone who she will eventually have to depose, maybe even kill to ensure her mothers plan comes to fruition. She is the soft heart of the triplets, the one who wants to see the best in people. She may not be skilled with the sword, or the use of her womanly wiles, but she is a knack with encoding and decoding messages and, more than her sisters, learned about the political side of running a Kingdom.
Daphne is the sibling most like her mother, something she takes great pride in. She is distanced, never willing to let her feelings show and determined to make sure her mothers plan works. But no sooner is she sent to her new home, than she gets embroiled in a plan to take down the King, and with it, her only hope of ruling as Queen. She is fast with a blade, knows how to shoot a bow and has a knack for poisons and, even though she may have come to care for some of the people around her, will stop at nothing to help her mother achieve greatness, even if it comes at a risk to her sisters.
Beatriz is the one sibling who ever really stood up to her mother. She is feisty and unafraid to use her beauty as a weapon, something which her mother sent her to do. The only problem, the man she was meant to seduce see’s her as no more than a daughter, and she has unfortunately caught someone else’s eye. Similarly to Sophie, she finds it hard to deceive these people she has come to care for and starts to question her mothers plans, something that could have disastrous consequences. Thanks to the siblings all travelling to different lands we get a wide breadth of side characters, some you’ll love, others you will hate but no character should be taken lightly. They all have an important part to play in the story, although you might not know exactly what part they have to play until it’s too late.
Don’t be deceived by the pretty Princess on the cover of this book, the contents are decidedly darker. With our three POV’s being exceedingly morally grey, as well as some characters who pop up who are just straight evil, it’s hard to know who you can really trust when reading. Sebastian sure knows how to keep her readers on their toes and her use of plot twists ensures that we never know which way the story is going to go until it happens. I did guess at the big plot twists but thought for sure that the author wouldn’t got there. Reader… she went there. And even though I had guessed it,I still found myself gasping out loud, not able to believe what exactly was happening.
As I stated above, all three of our Princesses travel to different lands which makes for some epic world-building. Each of the Kingdoms have their own beliefs, some use magic while others don’t and they are all wondrously brought to life thanks to Sebastian’s descriptive and lush writing style. Each Kingdom has their own political problems and they are filled with backstabbing and secrecy but, thanks to the Princesses training, they are able to manoeuvre through these problems with more ease than others might. The magic system itself was so well thought out and developed. It’s a wish based magic, with certain people, Empyrea’s, able to pluck stars from the skies for especially strong wishes, and stardust being used for everyday things such as fixing broken bones. It was especially interesting seeing how it was used over the different kingdoms, revered in some and deemed illegal in others, which added to the world-building.
I really enjoyed all the different romances this story focuses on. A relationship based on lies and deceit isn’t the easiest to have but the sisters, having only grown up with each other, never allowed to cultivate relationships as children, are eager to have something in their lives that wasn’t approved by their mother. Sebastian also puts a lot of focus into the relationship between the sisters themselves. Showing how Daphne is the one to cut ties the easiest, always feeling a little like an outsider, and how Sophie and Beatriz were always closer due to fear and resentment for their mother. She shows how growing up, having one goal drilled into you from near birth, never being allowed to make relationships can have a lasting effect, something that their mother didn’t plan for.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Darker than I anticipated, but that’s what made me love it more. Castle’s in Their Bones is filled with unforgettable characters, political machinations and plenty of deceit. I can’t tell you how much I need book two in my hands after the killer cliffhanger the first book ends on, and will definitely be checking out the authors other works in the meantime. An easy 4.5/5 stars.