Thursday, October 11, 2018

Book Review: Kill the Queen

Title: Kill the Queen (Crown of Shards #1)
Author: Jennifer Estep
Genre: Adult | Fantasy | Magic
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Source: Publisher 
Format: e-ARC

In a realm where one’s magical power determines one’s worth, Lady Everleigh’s lack of obvious ability relegates her to the shadows of the royal court of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. Seventeenth in line for the throne, Evie is nothing more than a ceremonial fixture, overlooked and mostly forgotten.

But dark forces are at work inside the palace. When her cousin Vasilia, the crown princess, assassinates her mother the queen and takes the throne by force, Evie is also attacked, along with the rest of the royal family. Luckily for Evie, her secret immunity to magic helps her escape the massacre.

Forced into hiding to survive, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. Though they use their talents to entertain and amuse the masses, the gladiators are actually highly trained warriors skilled in the art of war, especially Lucas Sullivan, a powerful magier with secrets of his own. Uncertain of her future—or if she even has one—Evie begins training with the troupe until she can decide her next move.

But as the bloodthirsty Vasilia exerts her power, pushing Bellona to the brink of war, Evie’s fate becomes clear: she must become a fearsome gladiator herself . . . and kill the queen (goodreads).

Kill the Queen was exciting with remarkable character growth.

Plot: Ever since her parents were slaughtered, Evie was passed around by relatives who didn't want her until the queen took her in. After years of living in the palace being used and ignored by everyone, Evie found herself as the only blood relative who could challenge her murderous cousin - the Crown Princess. 

For some reason, I had a difficult time getting through the beginning chapters that revealed Evie's life in the palace leading up to the massacre. Once Evie escaped and became a gladiator-in-training, I became more invested in her road to revenge. Some of my favorite chapters in Kill the Queen were flashbacks to Evie's childhood. Those chapters attested to Evie's vulnerability and Vasilia's cruelty.  

I found the magic to be unique, if not a little hard to follow. Evie was labeled as a mutt which meant that she couldn't wield magic, but she could smell and taste it in the air which came handy. I'm still unsure how the magic system worked, but I loved the different kids and the incorporation of shapeshifters. 

Characters: Evie's character development made Kill the Queen remarkable. There were times when I was annoyed at Evie's stubborn streak, but I had to put myself in her shoes and understand the horrors she survived. I felt that Evie became her own when she started socializing with the other gladiators. I loved the troupe of gladiators who lived, traveled and fought together. The romance between Evie and Sullivan was budding but the chemistry was present with every interaction. I'm sure that their romance is one that will be worth the wait and I can't wait to learn more about Sullivan's past. 

Worldbuilding: Kill the Queen was contained which made it easy to understand the lay of the land. Estep world took place mostly in the palace and the gladiator troupe. Estep used this opportunity to explain the economic differences between the palace and slums while also introducing different cultures and their customs. 

Short N Sweet: Kill the Queen is the introduction of an intriguing new world and romance.


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