Current YA trends don't include much high fantasy, but it's fun to read when it comes around. As is fitting for YA, the books that do succeed are often focused more on self-discovery and interpersonal relationships than magic and epic battles.
That's certainly the case in The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal. The story is about a sixteen-year-old princess who has just been told that she's not the real princess after all. Instead she's a stand-in, swapped at birth for the real princess in order to ensure that any plots against the throne would not succeed. After learning the truth, she is cast from the palace and sent far away to figure out how to live a life she was never prepared for.
I enjoyed the premise of the story. The plot was fun to follow, as were its twists. There were a few moments of minimal conflict in the first half during which I wondered where the story might be going, but I still always felt compelled to turn the next page. The overall path of the book was worth every minute of reading. Once the twists started coming, I thought that they were handled well.
The characters were easy to relate to and fun to spend time with. The romance wasn't surprising in any way, but it was very sweet. (The one small issue I had with it was that the characters had spent nearly all of their time together growing up, meaning they would be more likely to view each other as siblings and thus predisposed to avoid a romantic relationship. But the “practically siblings” → romance trend is common in high fantasy, so I wasn't shocked to see it.) The secondary characters were distinct and interesting. Altogether a well-rounded cast.
I would really love to see more novels like this. I'm a big fan of high fantasy, and this one is a credit to the genre. Worth picking up if you like fantasy!