The Movement of Crowns, by Nadine C. Keels, $5.65 (Self-Published)
A plucky young princess coming of age in a mythical kingdom is the focus of Nadine C. Keels’ novella The Movement of Crowns. In the first pages we meet Constance, the only child of Matthias, the ruler of Diachona, as she shops with commoners in the village marketplace. She’s discovered there by a handsome man, Staid, who seems to know her well. We’re quickly intrigued: Why is a princess shopping incognito on the day when she’s to be officially recognized as a royal junior and presented at court in a special ceremony? And what’s her relationship with the handsome young man who encounters her in the market?
The unconventional princess and her handsome friend are at the center of this book and they keep us engaged in this tale. The strength of Keels’ book lies in its characters. Constance is far from a traditional princess: she’s well-read, strong-minded and has opinions. She’s the only heir of her father, the king, whose nickname for her – Apple – connotes that she’s the proverbial apple of his eye. Her mother, Grace, has withdrawn from the world, presumably because of a breakdown over the loss of her infant son.
Keels’ story includes quite a few developments in its brief 115 pages. Before Keels is finished, Diachona has gone to the brink of war, Constance takes a seat on the royal council and her father officially recognizes her as next in line for the throne.
The good characters and fast-moving plot are among the book’s strengths. The writing itself is wordy and more than once has the reader wishing the author had availed herself of a good editor. Long, run-on sentences make this a tough read on a technical level. At moments it seems like a first draft that has yet to be revised by its author. Tighter prose and more attention to grammar and syntax throughout would greatly help the narrative. The dialogue between characters is among the strongest writing in the book. The characters speak with clarity and their conversations are written more crisply than the descriptions surrounding them.
Those who are willing to stay with the book in spite of its flawed writing will enjoy its lively story and characters. Keels does a good enough job in developing them – so good, in fact, that a reader is curious about what happens to Constance in the next book in the series.
Vicki Mayk has been a journalist, magazine editor and public relations person for 35 years. Her feature articles and essays have appeared in regional and national magazines, newspapers, and trade publications, including Hippocampus and East Meets West Writers Journal.