Castles in Their Bones by Laura Sebastian (Castles in Their Bones; 1)

Book Blurb:

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 Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own, and I am writing a voluntary review.

Erin’s Review:

“Remember to keep your enemies close, my dove-and the enemies of your enemies all the closer.”

CASTLES IN THEIR BONES is a brilliant young adult fantasy story full of political intrigue, a large cast of unique characters, enchanting world-building, and a twisting plot. It reminded my of the Three Dark Crowns series, but with much more sparkle and whimsy, while still having similar dire stakes and complications. This book released on February 1 and is the first in a trilogy. Having read the eARC, I am in desperate need of book 2 as well as a physical copy of the beautiful cover!

While fantasy political intrigue will always hit gold for me, my favorite part of this story was the sisterhood, even when they are parted, each in their own new kingdom. I loved the establishment of each sister, how they were each so unique and didn’t feel like triplets in personality or copies of characters from other books. While they were certainly “born to rule, raised to deceive”, they have an unmistakable bond together that is so well established in the first chapter before they are separate. They made each other stronger, better, and I really felt the sorrow of them being torn from one another.

“We’re three stars of the same constellation. Distance won’t change that.”

Sophie, though, is my absolutely favorite of the three. I related to her the most strongly, and found her to be admirable and inspiring, especially when she is struggling between obedience and following her own convictions.

The entire cast of characters were really incredible though, and when you have such a large cast – due to having three points of view that are each in their own separate plot and kingdom – that is a feat to achieve! All of the royal families of the three neighboring countries are well rounded and established, having plenty of history that clearly surpasses the pages we are given and makes them feel real rather than only existing when one of our three princesses enters their lives. Lord Savelle was one of my favorite happy character twists, and the way that he upsets Beatriz’s goals is a great catalyst for her character development. Gigi and Nico are also two of my favorite characters with such juicy secrets, but I love how each of the princesses had her friend close friends and rivals.

The only characters that gave me pause were the three princes the sisters each marry/are betrothed to. While individually, I liked how distinct each of them were, and how they were turned the tables on our expectations, however I wish those princes would have had a bit more brains and backbone. Bairre was certainly my favorite of the three boys because he had the most agency of the three, although I also loved the friendship between Beatriz and Pasquale. It should also be noted that there is an LGBT+ character, but no real romance.

Now the Empress. AH! Can we just talk about her for a brief moment? Because I loved her, and I know I shouldn’t have because she is terrible. So that makes her an excellent shadowy presence, doesn’t it? I hope we get more of the empress In future books, because she was a terrifying force when absent…and I practically cheered when she finally entered the stage! 

“They are a means to your end […]. That isn’t love.”

Now, the world building. It was astounding. Each of the four countries were so distinct and defined, and yet it also makes sense that they exist in the same world. Sometimes, authors want each kingdom to be SO unique that they don’t seem to fit together, as if they belong in entirely different books altogether. That is not the case with CASTLES IN THEIR BONES. Each country is beautiful formed and explored, with believable history and connections to their neighboring kingdoms and royal families, while still maintaining their own culture and way of life. Getting to learn about each country was definitely a big highlight for me, and I eagerly await to return to this world.

There were also some incredible twists and surprises in this story! And they were my favorite kinds of twists: ones that make sense, are set up properly, and I should have seen coming but I didn’t. The way this book ends is brilliant and I have no idea what will happen next!

I will definitely be reading this book again, not only to enjoy the characters, world, the twists and turns, but also for the masterful and inspiring writing. I give this book four stars for being all around brilliant and enjoyable!


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