Aurelia by Anne Osterlund

Aurelia, OsterlundPuffin, 2008
ISBN-13:  978-0142405796
Ages 12+

When Crown Princess Aurelia’s life is endangered by several assassination attempts, her father hires Robert Vantauge, the son of his former Royal Spy and an old classmate of Aurelia’s, to protect her and discover who is behind the plots.  There is an attraction between Robert and the fiesty princess to be sure, but as the king has ordered that Aurelia be kept ignorant of the peril surrounding her, the lies Robert is forced to tell her might serve to keep them apart.

We’ve seen similar plots done before, and it takes a great author to make something old into something new.  Unfortunately, Anne Osterlund’s debut doesn’t quite pull it off.  The storyline is predictable and, at times, boring.  The romance is clumsy, and the characters are for the most part one-dimensional (the only person I found appealing was Chris, Robert’s cousin).  Aurelia seems more spoiled and rude than independent and fiery, coming off as self-centered and mono-emotional (perpetually angry).

Other issues center around setting — I could never quite get a feel for the basic time period or location — and a lot of talk about horses that doesn’t add up (though readers who themselves don’t have much knowledge of horses are apt to be less bothered by this).

All in all, this book (the first of a proposed trilogy) took on stereotypes and proceeded to reinforce them.  One can only hope that the next two will offer something more original.

2/5 stars

— Reviewer Anonymous

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Update:  I don’t know what happened to the ‘proposed trilogy’, because Osterlund’s next endeavor, entitled Academy 7, is sci-fi and slated for release May 14, 2009.