Twin Crowns by Catherine Doyle & Katherine Webber | How a completely unexpected YA fantasy became my favourite book of the year

Book Review

I never would’ve bought this book. I’d seen it, admired the pretty cover with art by the incredible Charlie Bowater, and read the synopsis one time. It was not even close to being on my radar. In no world would I have ever gone out and bought this book.

And now it’s my favourite of the year.

Twin Crowns by Catherine Doyle and Katherine Webber

Thanks to some fortuitous timing, I ended up getting offered a subscription spot just in time for the June Fairyloot box, after being on the waiting list for a grand year and a half. And the June box just so happened to include a paperback book, in addition to the usual hardback special edition.

A gorgeous copy of Twin Crowns.

While I’d never even heard of the main book in the box, I immediately guessed Twin Crowns would be in here from the little teaser description. I don’t think many books released recently about twins separated at birth fighting for the crown. So even though this wasn’t a book I was planning on reading, I decided since I had a copy I might as well give it a go.

I picked it up for some light YA fantasy, to give me a break from the heavy adult book I was reading. I was planning to give it a few chapters, and if I wasn’t interested by then, put it down again. I never put it down. I was glued to this book for days. It ignited a kind of reading passion I haven’t felt in far too long. Where you’re excited to get home, so you can pick up your book again. You wake up and smile because you know you have that book to read. The kind where this book sucks you in so much you lose the world around you.

This book is deliciously tropey. It feels both fresh and suspenseful, with the comfort and familiarity of the cheesy princess films of my childhood. The humour is absolutely spot on. And the banter – TOP NOTCH. Every conversation thrilled me, and I laughed out loud more times than I can count. Both protagonists are delightful – loveable, entertaining, fully rounded with their own flaws and strengths. Not only that, we get TWO sparkling romances. These love interests are fine.

Twin Crowns by Catherine Doyle and Katherine Webber

Everything about this book was delightful. It follows two protagonists, Rose and Wren, identical twin sisters separated at birth. Rose has been raised in the castle as a perfect princess, by her father’s former aide. Wren has been raised on the wild cliffs by her grandmother, a fierce woman who leads the last settlement of witches. Rose has been raised from birth to fear witches – Wren is one. With Rose’s coronation fast approaching, the witches’ time is running out. So clearly, there’s only one thing they can do:

Pull a switcheroo.

Wren – wild, scruffy, and ill-mannered – sneaks into the castle. And sneaks prim, proper (unconscious) Rose out. As Wren infiltrates the castle, using her magic and identical face to impersonate the sister she’s never met, Rose is dragged across the desert in her nightgown. You can imagine the hilarious antics that ensue on both sides of this tale. As Wren is forced into corsets and tea parties, Rose is tumbling from horses and getting filthy with sand. And both girls are absolutely wonderful.

Despite their differences, the story never treats either as better than the other. Rose is feminine and polite – she wears her dresses like armour and wields diplomacy as her weapon. Wren is a tomboy – she’d sooner wear trousers, scamper up trees, and fight back with more than just words. One isn’t better than the other – they’re just different. Each girl has her own strengths. And I loved that really feminist take on what could’ve been a very stereotypical trope.

Coloured drawing of Wren and Rose from Twin Crowns
This is the first book that’s inspired me to make fanart in a WHILE.

The love interests were swoony, and I was absolutely rooting for both romances. I won’t say too much about who the love interests are because I hate giving spoilers and I don’t want to ruin any reveals – but you’ll know them when you read it. There are some peak rom-com tropes in here. I was living for it. And I’d also like to throw in a special mention to this book being set in a queernorm world! While none of the protagonists or their love interests were LGBTQ+, several side characters are and they were thrown in so naturally – no one batted an eyelid at these queer relationships. Wren’s grandmother has a wife, and Rose’s best friend is bisexual, to name a couple.

I enjoyed this book so much. It really made me genuinely HAPPY, in a way I haven’t felt from a book in quite a while. It was that joy of discovering something so comforting – so predictable that it makes it even more loveable. While the plot kept me guessing and on the edge of my seat, the familiar tropes really reassured me everything was going to be alright. Isn’t that why everybody loves romcoms? It’s so predictable that they’ll be happy at the end. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with searching for a happily ever after.

Synopsis:

Bestselling authors, Catherine Doyle and Katherine Webber, joined forces on an utterly compelling YA romantic fantasy bursting with high-stakes adventure and crossover appeal about twin princesses separated at birth.

Two sisters. One throne. Who will ultimately rise to power and wear the crown?

Wren Greenrock has always known that one day she would steal her sister’s place in the palace. Trained from birth to avenge her parents’ murder and usurp the princess, she will do anything to rise to power and protect the community of witches she loves.

Princess Rose Valhart knows that with power comes responsibility including marriage into a brutal kingdom. Life outside the palace walls is a place to be feared and she is soon to discover that it’s wilder than she ever imagined.

Twin sisters separated at birth and raised into entirely different worlds are about to get to know each other’s lives a whole lot better…

It’s been ages since I’ve done one of these review posts for a single book, but sometimes you love something so much that you just have to. I hope you enjoyed all my rambly gushing about my newest favourite book. Hopefully I can convince at least one person out there to pick up this book. Because I never planned on it, but I’m so glad I did.

Love and lemons, Abi

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