After Lyra—a princess incapable of speech or sound—is cast out of her kingdom of daylight by her wicked aunt, a witch saves her life, steals her memories, and raises her in an enchanted forest . . . disguised as a boy known only as Stain. Meanwhile, in Lyra’s rival kingdom, the prince of thorns and night is dying, and the only way for him to break his curse is to wed the princess of daylight—for she is his true equal. As Lyra finds her way back to her identity, an imposter princess prepares to steal her betrothed prince and her crown. To win back her kingdom, save the prince, and make peace with the land of the night, Lyra must be loud enough to be heard without a voice, and strong enough to pass a series of tests—ultimately proving she’s everything a traditional princess is not.
Princess Lyra, 12, is the only sun-averse girl in the daylight realm of Eldoria. Prince Vesper, 15, is the only night-blind boy in perpetually moonlit Nerezeth. Long ago, the moon retreated underground, dragging Nerezeth, Eldoria's neighbor, with it. When a sorceress predicts that the sun and moon will reunite when "a prince and princess who ne'er belonged to their own" join hands, the kingdoms arrange Lyra and Vesper's eventual marriage. Lyra's Aunt Griselda wants the throne for her own daughter, though, and hatches a murderous plot to help the girl assume Lyra's identity, leaving Lyra for dead. Crony, a witch, finds and resuscitates the princess, first stealing her memories, and Lyra builds a new life with her, posing as a boy called Stain. Howard keeps readers wondering whether Lyra will recover her past in time to reclaim her future and fulfill the prophecy. Detailed worldbuilding and an intricate setup slow the start of this reimagining of "The Princess and the Pea," but Howard (the Splintered series) ultimately rewards readers with an emotionally complex tale of fate, inner beauty, and found family that illustrates the strength of love born from friendship. Ages 13 up.