“LEGACY,” by Cayla Kluver, Harlequin Teen, June 28, 2011, $9.99 (young adult)
Cayla Kluver’s “Legacy” can easily be described as “The Little Book That Could.” First written by Cayla in 2008, “Legacy” was self-published by the then-15-year-old’s mother. In 2009 AmazonEncore picked up the book and published it in hardcover. Cayla’s book caught the attention of editors at Harlequin Teen and a newly edited paperback version was released in June of this year.
In addition to publishing success, “Legacy” is also the recipient of numerous awards including, first place in the Reader’s Views 2008 Literary Awards, YA bronze medalist in the 2008 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards and YA finalist in the 2008 National Best Books Awards.
All the above notoriety is not undeserved. “Legacy” is not without its flaws, but ultimately is a satisfying fantasy.
Having just entered her 17th year, Princess Alera has one pressing duty — finding a suitable husband. Not just any man will do. In Hytanica, the leader must be a man, and whomever Alera marries will rule over everyone, including the queen.
Everyone may think that it’s up to Alera, who she marries, but they’re mistaken. Alera’s father, the current king, has his own ideas, and they’re not in line with his daughter’s. The kingdom needs a strong leader, he argues, someone who will be able to protect its people from their enemy, the people of Cokyri.
When a spy from Cokyri is captured in the palace gardens, everyone feels a heightened sense of anxiety. The spy escapes, but another Cokryian is discovered, and this time the foreigner hash deep ties to Hytanica.
At first, Alera is alarmed, but that feeling gives way to intrigue, clandestine meetings and very un-princesslike behavior. There’s a shadow hanging over both their kingdoms, if only they knew the whole story behind it.
Those readers who are hoping for things to be tied up neatly will be disappointed in “Legacy’s” conclusion. It is clear that it was written with a series in mind, and its sequels “Allegiance” and “Sacrifice,” will be coming out winter 2011 and a yet-to-be-determined date respectively.
In most ways “Legacy” (the latest version) doesn’t read like a 15-year-old wrote it. Whether that’s a product of talented editors or a strong writer will probably become clearer when Cayla’s second book comes out and a pattern of growth, or lack thereof, can be ascertained.
Cayla places a lot of emphasis on some seemingly minor details and very little on details that would serve to enhance the reader’s experience. A lot of these choices come with age and experience and are likely to improve with her series.
If anything, the biggest detractor of “Legacy” would be its new cover, which is fine independently but doesn’t match the tone or time period of the book.
Both of the above are minor complaints, however, when you look at the book as a whole. Cayla’s plotting is strong and consistent, and she never strays too far from her center. Alera is a likable character and one that young women will easily identify with. There’s also a romantic fairy tale quality that’s appealing without being too heavy handed.