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Review: Empress & Aniya by Candice Carty-Williams

Empress & Aniya, the first YA novel from the bestselling author Candice Carty-Williams, is one of the sweetest books I have read in a long time. The story begins when Empress, an intelligent girl from a disadvantaged background, begins attending Aniya’s posh High School and is placed in her class. Their teacher assigns Aniya the responsibility of helping Empress settle in. At first, she resents being given this task but resolves to befriend the new girl. They quickly become friends, best friends, and learn about each other’s lives. On their 16th birthday, the girls cast a spell and switch bodies, gaining even deeper insight into what life is like for the other. I’d say that this book is perfect for those on the younger end of the YA spectrum.

This book was a very pleasant and easy read and I was surprised by how quickly I finished it. I think it could stand to be a little bit longer, I would have liked to see more of the growth of Empress and Anya’s friendship. It feels a bit like they’re acquaintances on one page and best of friends on the next, without much of the in-between friendship building phase. I would’ve loved to see more of that.

I enjoyed reading about such a tender friendship and between two characters who, on paper, are quite different. The way that Empress gradually opens up to Aniya and allows herself to be taken care of is very heartwarming. I know what it’s like to feel the need to put on a hard exterior all the time. I love Aniya’s nurturing instincts and the way she sticks up for her friend.

I’m a sucker for close female friendships and it’s lovely to read one in this age range, dealing with these particular issues. I’d recommend this book for anyone looking for a sweet read and for young teens.


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