Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Series: Book One in the Ring and the Crown Series
Published By: Disney-Hyperion (April 1, 2014)
Source: ARC Copy Provided by the Publisher (in exchange for an honest review)
Genre: YA Fantasy
My Rating: 3 Stars
Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the Lily Throne, and Aelwyn Myrddn, bastard daughter of the Mage of England, grew up together. But who will rule, and who will serve?
Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second, Supreme Ruler of the Franco-British Empire. With the help of her Head Merlin, Emrys, Eleanor has maintained her stranglehold on the world's only source of magic. She rules the most powerful empire the world has ever seen.
But even with the aid of Emrys' magic, Eleanor's extended lifespan is nearing its end. The princess must marry and produce an heir or the Empire will be vulnerable to its greatest enemy, Prussia. The two kingdoms must unite to end the war, and the only solution is a match between Marie and Prince Leopold VII, heir to the Prussian throne. But Marie has always loved Gill, her childhood friend and soldier of the Queen's Guard.
Together, Marie and Aelwyn, a powerful magician in her own right, come up with a plan. Aelwyn will take on Marie's face, allowing the princess to escape with Gill and live the quiet life she's always wanted. And Aelwyn will get what she's always dreamed of--the chance to rule. But the court intrigue and hunger for power in Lenoran England run deeper than anyone could imagine. In the end, there is only rule that matters in Eleanor's court: trust no one.
One of the few known things about me is that I love history, it was always one of my most favorite subjects in school. I love learning about our past and getting swept away with the details of another time and place, which is probably why I love reading historical fiction so much, the details, the balls, the dress, the manners, the innovations, how life was then, all of it. There is just something fascinating about it all.
When I saw that this was going to be set in an alternate twentieth century England, where magic rules the land, I just knew I had to pick it up and read it. Debutantes, season, balls, fabulous dresses, conspiracies, lost loves and magic, what's not to love.
I already knew I liked de la Cruz's writing having read two of her other series, what I wasn't expecting was, even though there is a paranormal element to this, just how different it felt from her others. It had a whole new feel to it and I actually really liked that about it. My only real complaint is that the history nerd in me wanted a little more detail about the kingdom and setting. I would have loved to have just a little more description in what they wore, the surrounding castle and land and okay, I will admit it, even the dresses. I do kind of wish Merlin's legacy would have been more fleshed out as well, I never was confused but it would have been nice to know how King Arthur's court was continued other than simply by magic. Was magic not a secret to anyone at all or did only the rich, privileged and royal (as well as their servants) know about it?
What about Avalon? What and where exactly was it? What was the full story behind the aunt?
Even though I felt like I still had many unanswered questions by the end, overall I did enjoy this. I liked that it wasn't just about Aewlyn and Marie, that is was in fact about many people and how all their lives intertwined and connected.
This wasn't a sweet fairytale but instead it had a harshness to it and probably even a very accurate look into how royal life really was/is then. How one couldn't just marry for love but instead had to for money, titles, union of two kingdoms or circumstance.
I have no idea if this will be a series or if there will even be a sequel but I am hoping that there will be because I would love to have de la Cruz answer all those pesky questions I still have and get to really see what became of all the characters months down the road.
(it seems now that it is closer to release date, there is in fact a sequel planned)
*All thoughts and opinions are my own and were not influenced by the author or publisher in any way. I was not compensated for this review.*