Release-Day Review: Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep (Crown of Shards #1)


Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep // VBCKill the Queen (Crown of Shards #1)
Jennifer Estep
Published: Oct. 2, 2018 (Harper Voyager)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by: Amy

Rating (out of 5): 4 stars

Ever since the death of her parents fifteen years ago Lady Everleigh Saffira Winter Blair has lived as a shadow amongst her royal family at the palace in the Kingdom of Bellona. With an insignificant amount of magic (at least that she’ll admit to) and after a hard-learned lesson from her cousin Vasilia, Evie tries to stay out of the limelight that her cousins and the Queen inhabit. That is, until the day Vasilia decides to usurp her mother, Queen Cordelia.

When Evie survives the massacre that saw the entire Blair line snuffed out, she runs to the only place that can provide her with the protection and training while she decides what steps to take next: a gladiator troupe.

As Evie trains her body into a fighting machine, she has to contend with the rumors of Vasilia plunging Bellona into war. If she wants to protect the people, she’ll need to step up and assert her power or die trying.

Kill the Queen is Jennifer Estep’s foray into fantasy. I’d actually label this one as fantasy lite. If you’re new to the genre and unsure about the heavier-handed epic fantasies that are out there, Kill the Queen would be perfect for you. Estep utilizes her own terminology, but it’s very easy to adopt and understand. For example, within the Crown of Shards world you’ll find magiers–those with magical ability, like over an element (i.e. water, metal, etc.–sound familiar?); mutts—those with small, typically physical forms of magic like enhanced strength or speed; morphs—see shapeshifter; and masters—pretty much anyone with an extreme talent with an element.

If you’re someone who is a Jennifer Estep fan, there’s plenty to recognize in the start of her new series. I had to quickly abandon my running tally of comparisons between this new book and her Elemental Assassin series. Just beware, if you’ve read most all of her previous books, like yours truly, you’ll see the similarities in characterization as well. Rest assured this isn’t a bad thing by any means. I’ve come to understand this as Jennifer Estep’s style and it makes for an easy, quick-paced, reliable read that I honestly didn’t want to put down.

There were a few drawbacks, however. I felt like the line between adult and YA was blurred too easily. So much so that when the random swearword would come up, I was taken aback, feeling for sure that the word was misplaced. Now, I couldn’t honestly care less about swear words or sex in my books—they have their time and place—these just seems like they were included in order to assure everyone that, yes, you are reading an adult novel. It was jarring at times.

Also, the pacing was so quick and forward-moving that I never really felt the effects of time. The beginning to the end the book is supposed to be encompassed by months. Months in which Evie has gained strength and perseverance. Months where she’s formed new relationships. In general, months where she’s grown. I just didn’t feel the weight of that growth, and I feel like I should have based on where/how the book ends.

Despite this, I really enjoyed Kill the Queen and found myself up at all hours to finish. I look forward most to the continuing story and the fleshing out of the characters more. I can’t wait to see where things go between Evie and Sullivan—the head trainer of the gladiators—a clear romantic entanglement. And I loved the new tentative friendship Evie has started with fellow gladiator Paloma. Plus, if this story is any indication, Evie will definitely be able to give Gin a run for her money.

Sexual content: references to sex

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