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Crown of Shards #1

Kill the Queen

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Gladiator meets Game of Thrones: a royal woman becomes a skilled warrior to destroy her murderous cousin, avenge her family, and save her kingdom in this first entry in a dazzling fantasy epic from the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Elemental Assassin series—an enthralling tale that combines magic, murder, intrigue, adventure, and a hint of romance.

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.

480 pages, ebook

First published October 2, 2018

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About the author

Jennifer Estep

87 books11.1k followers
Jennifer Estep is a New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author who prowls the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea.

Jennifer is the author of the Elemental Assassin, Section 47, Galactic Bonds, Crown of Shards, Gargoyle Queen, and other fantasy series. She has written more than 40 books, along with numerous novellas and stories.

In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys hanging out with friends and family, doing yoga, and reading fantasy and romance books. She also watches way too much TV and loves all things related to superheroes.

For more information on Jennifer and her books, visit her website at www.JenniferEstep.com or sign up for her newsletter: http://www.jenniferestep.com/contact-....

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Amazon: https://amzn.to/39lCyX6
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Happy reading, everyone! 😎

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,830 reviews
Profile Image for Katerina.
420 reviews16.7k followers
December 31, 2018
❝ Summer queens are fine and fair, with pretty ribbons and flowers in their hair. Winter queens are cold and hard, with frosted crowns made of icy shards.❞

Hooking. Engaging. Gripping. Encompassing.
I can cite the entire thesaurus, and the conclusion will still be the same: Jennifer Estep 's new high fantasy novel is wonderful!



There is a nation founded on gladiator tradition. A ruthless heir who does not hesitate to plunge her country in bloodshed and mayhem to pursue her megalomania. Scheming foreign nobles who will stop at nothing to bring Bellona to its knees. And a neglected royal, the only one who can kill the queen.

Have you ever experienced love at first site? It happens to me only as regards books, but I wouldn't like it otherwise. There was something about Kill the Queen that called to me ever since I laid my eyes on it, it was a beacon summoning my starving soul, which was aching for a good fantasy read, with solid world-building, intriguing magic system, scheming nobility, cunning villains and a dash of slow-burning romance. And I got everything I wanted, even though not in the way I expected.

The truth is, I thought that the novel would start off with Evie being already in the arena, fighting as a gladiator, taking step after step in order to avenge her family, just like the blurb suggested. However, the first part of the book describes the day that led to the event, the massacre that changed everything, thus losing the element of surprise. Setting this aside, Kill the Queen was definitely an intense novel, one of those you read in one sitting and end up with dry eyes due to sleep deprivation.

Kill the Queen is a character-driven fantasy, the development of the protagonist attesting to it. Once, she was a woman that learned to hold her tongue, to avoid standing out in order to prevent her nemesis' wrath from finding her. But after everything she loses, she discards lady Everleigh and embraces Evie, the gladiator, the Winter Queen everyone seems bent on murdering. Following a path of blood and loss, Evie claims her destiny in an exciting fantasy saga that left me begging for more, for various reasons.
One of them being Sullivan.



While the first instalment of Crown of Shards is not heavy on romance, there is a man with a grip on Evie's heart. They have a rocky start, and Sullivan is not exactly polite or kind, but they fight and clash with a searing intensity that will probably kill me until they end up together. Because they have to, right Jennifer? Right?

To sum up, Kill the Queen delivers on many levels, and my grabby hands ache to meet Protect the Prince.
Profile Image for Bibi.
1,282 reviews3,328 followers
June 21, 2019
Some parts were jarring

The setting is unmistakably medieval yet the atmosphere is an anachronistic interplay of 18th-century fixtures alongside present-day vocabulary.

Despite that, I found myself completely hooked by the characters, the plot, and everything that led up to that climactic, very satisfying ending. Waiting impatiently for the next book.
Profile Image for Vibur (hiatus).
42 reviews226 followers
July 31, 2020
Effing. Everleigh. Saffira. Winter. Blair.
I'll get straight to the point: the protagonist is as stupid as her name sounds.
(Alright, I added in that first word.)

For starters, her actual character arc ended much too soon (three hundred pages-too soon, to be specific), leaving no room for further growth. What was worse, however, was the author's obsessive need to force-feed said "character development" over and over again throughout the rest of the novel. I was so, so tired of reading all those internal monologues about how the "old Everleigh" was different to the "new Evie" because the "old Everleigh" would have done this but the "new Evie" would be doing that, and because she was the "new Evie" and not the "old Everleigh", she'd do what the "new Evie" would be doing and not what the "old Everleigh" would have done.


Oh, and dumb decisions abound.
The few brain cells I have left are rioting, because how is it that a person could be so painfully, stupidly, stubbornly oblivious?
Worse was how Evie was dumb for the sake of being dumb (because, you know, reasons). All those dumb decisions written into the plot, so it could run thin and unconvincing after four hundred pages of irrelevant subplots borne from said dumb decisions.
And goddarn the first-person narration. As if reading about dumb characters wasn't bad enough, we have to read through all their dumb, dumb thoughts too.


The writing was shrugworthy. At times, we got some admittedly good descriptions. And at times, we got this utterly useless shit of details: "he was wearing his gray coat and had a gray leather knapsack slung over his shoulder", "he wore a tailored black tunic that stretched across his firm, muscled chest, along with black leggings and boots". (Oh, wow. So hot. I'm swooning.)
And as for the fight scenes, bleh. I mean, seeing as this was about gladiators, of all things, don’t blame me for feeling miffed that the action read along the lines of, "the opponent attac'ed, I counterattac'ed", and "clang, clang, clang!". I want a description, not a goddarn Wikipedia synopsis.

1.5/5
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,878 reviews22.6k followers
July 12, 2019
A beach book type of fantasy, pretty standard YA-type fantasy with a romance interest, except the language and violence are adult-level. Review first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Lady Everleigh Saffira Winter Blair is a member of the royal family (seventeenth in line for the throne of Bellona, to be precise) and has lived in the royal palace for fifteen years, since her parents were murdered when she was twelve. But this position of access hasn’t exactly translated into a life of privilege for Everleigh, or Evie. Partly because she lacks the powerful offensive magical powers that most royals have (she does have a super-sensitive sense of smell), Evie is treated just a few steps above a servant. She’s mostly overlooked unless there’s some boring or unpleasant duty that a royal has to perform, like making cranberry-apple pie for guests from the kingdom of Andvari or learning an intricate dance, the Tanzen Freund, for the visiting Ungerian delegation.

Evie does, in fact, have another magical power that she’s kept secret all her life, and it and her nose stand her in good stead when a “small” luncheon for two hundred royals and guests turns into a bloodbath, as the ambitious crown princess Vasilia ruthlessly murders her mother the queen and scores of other people attending the luncheon, including every other royal who might challenge Vasilia.

With the help of her magic and, frankly, through a series of flukes, Evie survives the massacre and goes into hiding with a gladiator troupe, landing a role as their baker (all that pie-making came in handy) and learning gladiator fighting skills. Evie’s not sure what her next step should be, but Vasilia’s not done yet, and her actions may not leave Evie with much of a choice.

Kill the Queen is a fast-paced, brain-candy type of fantasy by Jennifer Estep, starring a princess in hiding training as a gladiator, a nefarious queen who remorselessly murders others to achieve her ambitions, and a handsome magier (mage), Lucas Sullivan, who quickly develops a snarky relationship with Evie.

It’s marketed as “Gladiator meets Game of Thrones,” but that’s only true on a superficial level. The fateful luncheon, originally intended to celebrate Princess Vasilia’s betrothal to Prince Hans of Andvari, is certainly reminiscent of Game of Thrones’ infamous Red Wedding scene, and yes, the heroine is a gladiator hoping to (eventually) take out the ruler of her country, but otherwise I’m hard-pressed to see many points of similarity. Certainly Kill the Queen lacks the complexity and subtleties of George R.R. Martin’s work.

Kill the Queen is at its heart a YA type of fantasy, despite its older heroine and the plentiful adult language and violence. The characters are familiar types and generally one-dimensional; the writing style and plot are straightforward and easy to follow. Evie’s adventures are in the nature of coming-of-age experiences for her.

Evie initially disregards Queen Cordelia’s dying instructions to her to find Serilda Swanson, formerly the queen’s personal guard and now the leader of the gladiator troupe. When Evie fortuitously stumbles into Serilda’s troupe anyway, she still disregards Cordelia’s instructions to disclose her identity to Serilda and get her help. Ostensibly it’s because Evie is too distrustful, but it’s apparent that the real reason is to prolong the suspense. It’s also a bit hard to swallow how the two mundane skills she had to learn end up being critical to her survival and the plot; the plot hangs off a lot of coincidences.

With a straightforward, action-packed plot and style, Kill the Queen is fine for a beach read type of fantasy. There are a few unresolved plot threads at the end, not enough to create a cliffhanger ending, but enough to leave readers interested in what will happen next. The sequel, Protect the Prince, was just published in July 2019, and I’m interested enough to read it and see where events take Evie and Sullivan and their friends next. A third book in this CROWN OF SHARDS series, Crush the King, is planned for 2020.

Content notes: This book has adult content (language and violence); the sequel includes an explicit sex scene.
Profile Image for Francesca ❆.
384 reviews80 followers
March 9, 2019
*Thanks to Edelweiss and Harper Voyager(Harper Collins) for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review*

Sadly, this book didn’t work for me (despite the amazing premise) for multiple reasons.
I thought the world building was poorly flashed out (with bits of infos sprinkled in without a logic), the blurb describes it as “Game of Thrones meets Gladiator” but in reality the gladiators are used as plot device while the plot doesn’t have a smudge of the treachery and cruelty of GoT.
The divide between villains and heroes is showed like a neon sign, the usage of the first person narrative gave an alienating quality to the story (felt really lecture like) and also the language used felt very “modern” and created some discrepancies between the genre and writing.
The plot felt stifled and predictable, with lackluster plot twists and bland dialogues.
As for the characters....a big meh. I didn’t find them very fleshed out or captivating, the protagonist was both naive and annoying and although she matures a great deal she still comes across as a flat character; the male counterpart wasn’t any better: classic hunk with the personality of a coconut; the secondary characters were well integrated in the plot although I wished they were more “important” for the plot so they would’ve felt more real.
The romance could’ve been avoided: it goes from mild attraction to full “I’m gonna sleep with you tonight and I just decided it because we might die soon so YOLO” (I know, what a sound reasoning!), this rushing took away any investment I could’ve developed if the author stuck with the slow burn.


Profile Image for Holly.
1,391 reviews926 followers
October 8, 2018
3.5 stars

Before I talk about why I liked this book, and I did like it, I first need to get off my chest the one thing I really didn't like: the trope of 'main character is told to say/do something specific and then spends the majority of the book NOT doing that thing because of stupid reasons just to drag the plot out more'. Why do authors do this? The reader spends a lot of the time frustrated thinking 'are they going to say/do it NOW? No? How about now? No? Ok, now?' But maybe that's just me.

Ignoring that seriously-annoying-to-me thing, I actually enjoyed this book quite a bit overall. It's got a fantasy world with magic, magical creatures, and shapeshifters (called morphs) without being too over the top unrealistic. Even though it's got almost zero plot twists, the pace of the book moves fast enough that you don't even notice. There's a very teeny-tiny romantic subplot (which hopefully will get further focus in future books), there's some political intrigue, and some gaining of new friends and new enemies. The sneak peek at the first chapter of the next book was underwhelming and I'm not sure why it was even given honestly, I think it would have served the author better to give a random excerpt that had more action in it instead, but I will still check it out when it's released because I am curious as to where the book takes the heroine next.
Profile Image for Maria V. Snyder.
Author 64 books16.8k followers
November 19, 2018
I enjoyed this book very much! The characters and world were very engaging and I want to read the next book. My only complaint was the fact that the back cover copy pretty much gives away what happens in the first third of the book. Even Part 1 is titled "The Royal Massacre" so this isn't a spoiler. And knowing what was going to happen made the first third anticlimactic with no surprises so all the clues that "something isn't quite right" didn't increase the tension for me. Parts 2 and 3 were wonderful and I think the book could have started at Part 2.

Mostly the editor writes the cover copy for the book - mine always does and then I get to edit my editor, which is fun. But I'm not sure if all authors are able to provide input. The second book is coming out in April (I think) and while I plan to get a copy, I'll make sure not to read the cover copy this time :)
Profile Image for Beth.
3,124 reviews261 followers
August 21, 2022
Breath-taking! White Knuckle Reading! Epic Fantasy at its finest! Estep rocks the epic fantasy genre with Kill the Queen and I can't wait for PROTECT THE PRINCE!

I'm sure I'll want to re-read it at least once more before then...It is that AMAZING! This is going to the top of my list of favorite fantasy reads 2018.

I received this ARC copy of Kill the Queen from HarperCollins - Harper Voyager. This is my honest and voluntary review. Kill the Queen is set for publication October 2, 2018.

My Rating: 5 stars Favorite
Written by: Jennifer Estep
Series: A Crown of Shards Novel
Sequence in Series: Book 1
Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
ISBN-10: 0062797611
ISBN-13: 978-0062797612
Genre: Fantasy

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Kill-Queen-Cro...
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/kill...
Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/kill...

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June 5, 2019

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I have a lot of favorite genres to read, but one I find myself coming back to again and again is fantasy. You could argue that any fictional book is escapist, but fantasy (and science-fiction, to a lesser extent) is the genre that involves literally escaping to another world, and I find it so amazing that we as humans can actually dream up entire alternate universes, populate them with living things, and then put all of that imagination to paper.



KILL THE QUEEN snagged me with its blurb, which says that it's a cross between Gladiator and Game of Thrones. Even though I profess to hate those "X meets Y" blurbs and find them lazy, they still work on me, because I am a trash can. The book is also only $1.99 in the Kindle store at the time of my writing this review, which also helps. I can't say no to cheap or free.



Everleigh is minor nobility in a treacherous kingdom fraught with intrigue and betrayal. She lives in a castle, working as a servant, because in a hierarchy based on magic and might, she, as a lowly "mutt" doesn't have much power. Of course, she's not as powerless as anyone thinks - she has the ability to immunize herself against magic - but her mother swore her to secrecy about this ability, and now her mother is dead by assassination, so clearly she must have known something about treachery, right? Right. So Everleigh allows herself to be treated like crap until the crown princess, Vasilia, decides to pull a Red Wedding on the day of her betrothal, killing her husband-to-be, his entourage, her subjects, and then, last but not least, her own mother.



Everleigh escapes the fray only barely by using her powers against the magical assault. She ends up wandering and lost, still stunned by what she witnessed, until she happens upon a gladiatorial camp in the middle of the woods. It's headed by a woman who I'm not entirely sure isn't Brienne of Tarth (her name is Serilda), and Obligatory Hot Man Candy ™, Sullivan. They aren't exactly eager to welcome her into the fold, but Everleigh proves her worth, so they do - only it turns out that at least some of the people at the camp have a ~mysterious~ connection to the castle.



So here's the thing, this is a love-it or hate-it type book. If you're a die-hard fantasy purist who likes everything to be by-the-book and Tolkienesque, you're probably going to hurl this book out the window. I looked at the positive and negative reviews before buying it and they are totally on the ball, in my opinion. Regarding the naysayers - no, KILL THE QUEEN doesn't quite live up to the brutality of Game of Thrones, and I think the main tie-in is the massacre in the beginning of the book (hence why I didn't tag it with a spoiler; it's mentioned in the Goodreads blurb and happens super early on in the story). The Gladiator comparison has more merit, but it's not the focus of the story.



KILL THE QUEEN is also a bit of an odd duck because it doesn't really have a clear setting. It could be, as another reader pointed out, anywhere from early Medieval to 18th century, and the language the characters use in dialogue is very modern-sounding. The end result is something anachronistic and odd, that feels about as cheesy and unrealistic as a small-town Renaissance Faire. There's also a bit of a romance thrown in here, but it feels like a flash in the pan because 1) it's kind of insta, and 2) it doesn't come into fruition at all, so what was the point, even? Hot Man Candy ™ aside.



I did like the heroine, though. She had to struggle for what she accomplished, and the author wasn't afraid to make her work for that happy ending. There were a couple scenes in here that reminded me of ELLA ENCHANTED, in how the main character's intelligence and ability to be a quick study ended up saving her ass in a way that might have otherwise seemed like a deus ex machina. I liked the call backs to things that seemed irrelevant in the beginning; I like an author who plans.



KILL THE QUEEN is a wonky book and does some truly odd things, but I enjoyed the story and the characters, and I'm curious to see how the plot will develop with the release of the second book. If you're looking for something that'll keep you turning the pages, and doesn't require too much effort, KILL THE QUEEN is a solid choice, and proof that good can exist from great, and that's OK.



3 to 3.5 stars
Profile Image for Astrid - The Bookish Sweet Tooth.
792 reviews857 followers
October 3, 2018


READ MY REVIEW ON THE BLOG





A first in a new Fantasy series always has that unwelcome potential to be an information dump. When that happens the story seems to drag on and you don't seem to make much progress. Now Kill the Queen is a completely different caliber. It's addictive, fast paced and captivating. There is another thing that can slow a fantasy story down and that's archaic language. Jennifer Estep's first in this epic fantasy reads like a modern fantasy novel which is a welcome change.

Evie is a fantastic heroine. She starts out as a young woman who has accepted her fate as a permanent stand-in as cousin to the reigning queen. She has lost so much - her parents, her home, everything she loved. When she first arrived at the palace Seven Spires in the kingdom of Bellona, alone, sad, she finds a friend in the princess but it doesn't take long until Vasilia betrays her and the whole kingdom. Evie's cousin craves power and when her greed escalates Evie experiences violence like she has never known. So much violence.

Over the course of her journey she shows immense growth from the girl who keeps her head down to a self confident, strong woman who doesn't mince words. But through all this she always has an air of kindness and the heart of a lioness. Courageous, cunning, loving, driven by revenge. Having never had real friends before, she craved nothing more than true friendship and there were some touching moments when she found it.

Fighting at her side is an array of colorful characters. Especially Lucas Sullivan who comes to mean more and more to Evie intrigues me. I loved Evie's needling him but I have to say I wanted to kick him a little bit along the way too.


There are some inconsistencies that didn't make complete sense but although I registered them I was so invested in the story that I didn't mind.


KILL THE QUEEN is a solid action-packed first book in an epic fantasy series with a spectacular finale that will leave you whooping and cheering. The world is rich with adventure, magic and fantastical creatures, schemes at a royal court, sword fights, villains and characters who live by their own code of honor. What's left is one question. When can I get the next book?



“To the end?”
“To the end,” they all murmured in unison.



Profile Image for mich.
647 reviews229 followers
September 5, 2019
Gladiator meets Game of Thrones?

Ha. Whatever.

I was expecting gritty & complex based on that blurb. It was the wrong thing to expect.

This book was so bubblegum pop paint-by-numbers YA fantasy, and if I had known that going in then maybe it would have gone better for me. As it was, I was disappointed and annoyed the entire time reading.

Altho this isn't YA apparently; the MC is in her late-20's and "fucking" is used casually (as a word, not as a doing - no good sex scenes in here fyi). But it totally read like YA. I like YA, but this was the bad kind of YA.

Tropey. Really basic obvious characters. The requisite, moving too fast romance. Juvenile dialogue. Thin plot.

God the plot was so thin. There wasn't enough meat to it to last the whole book, so the author had to rely on a stupid character to allow it enough page time, just to drag things out.

Our MC Evie is literally too stupid to live. Like, I don't understand why she's still alive? She'll put 2 plus 2 together and get baked potato. Or umbrella. Sometimes fork.

Never 4 though. Never 4.

She's really observant but the light bulb takes FOREVER to go on and being in her thoughts as she's seeing things, but not understanding them (no matter how obvious they are) is frustrating as hell. Her decisions are stupid, SHE'S stupid and it just made me feel like this whole book was kinda stupid.

I won't be reading the next one.

1.5 stars (not a straight 1 star cuz it was readable and an "easy" read you could say)

(scrolling down my GR friend reviews and I'm seeing mostly 4-5 stars yikes. K - this one was just a me thing I think lol)
Profile Image for Madison Warner Fairbanks.
2,120 reviews275 followers
April 6, 2019
Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep

Fantastic. Engaging.
Women gladiators and magic.
Fantasy that once it got going, didn’t stop until the very end. Loved it.
A little slow to start. First in a series. If I could, I would immediately start the second which is very out of the norm for me.
Yes, lots of battles and killing which is also typically a negative for me. And the villain has no remorse as she slaughtered dozens. The heroine kills as well (certainly not as many) but is full of remorse and disgust when it happens.

Love this author and can’t wait to read the next.
Profile Image for Grace A..
360 reviews38 followers
September 18, 2022
Kill the Queen was full of action, with an unlikely heroine who turned out to be fierce and powerful. I enjoyed it very much.
Evie, the main character, was an orphan and 17 in line to the throne. She was not a contender for the throne and could barely tolerate palace politics and all the pettiness that comes with it. Then, in just a day, the crown princess massacred every royal, so she could claim the throne without anyone to challenge her in the future. It would have worked, except Evie had a rare type of magic that saved her life and allowed her to escape. She still wanted nothing to do with the throne, but she can't run away forever, and allow her mad cousin to plunge the country into a pointless war, that will claim a lot of innocent lives.
This book was engrossing, fun, and exciting. I especially loved that it was packed full of fierce and strong female characters. Five stars.
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
1,985 reviews2,584 followers
October 18, 2018
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2018/10/18/...

I’d never read Jennifer Estep before Kill the Queen, though I’ve often seen her name spoken of highly among readers in urban fantasy and paranormal romance circles. As a result, I’d long been curious about her work, so when I first learned that she was venturing into epic fantasy with a new book described as a royal revenge story about a female gladiator, I was instantly intrigued.

Kill the Queen follows Everleigh (who prefers going by Evie), a minor member of the Bellona royal family. Seventeenth in line for the throne, she mostly passes through the halls of the palace as an afterthought or ignored all together, especially ever since she and her cousin the crown princess Vasilia fell out. People are also dismissive towards Evie because she doesn’t have much in the way of magical power, though secretly, she is glad for the lack of attention—the better to hide her true talent, which is an immunity to magic.

But then one day during a foreign dignitary event, the power-hungry Vasilia finally shows her hand and together with her co-schemers, they unleash a coup on the unsuspecting court. The queen is killed, along with all those in attendance so there would be no living witnesses to Vasilia’s treachery. Thanks to her secret power though, Evie manages to survive her cousin’s magical attack. She flees to a gladiator school, taking refuge with the troupe there after they agree to take her in and train her in the ways of fighting. Not knowing whom to trust, Evie decides to lay low, until it becomes clear she must stop Vasilia from using her stolen crown to plunge the kingdom into war.

While trope-laden and not terribly original, this book nonetheless provided plenty of enjoyment. I think it says a lot about Estep that she was able to carry the story using the strength of her writing skills alone, giving me such a good time that I was willing to overlook all the glaring clichés. Much of it was due to Evie, whose charming personality and voice hooked me right from the start. An unlikely heroine, she’s a forgotten royal orphan with a special hidden talent that just conveniently happens to be the key to saving an entire kingdom—in other words, her character is as stereotypical and formulaic as you could get. And yet, it did not bother me as much as I thought it would. Like I always say though, tropes are popular for a reason and they only become a problem if not written well, and thanks to the author’s natural and flowing prose, her protagonist was immediately granted a high “likeability factor” which kept me reading.

I also thought world-building was on the sparser side, due in part to the lack of fine detail and description one would usually find in an epic fantasy. The book felt very streamlined in that regard, keeping background information to a bare minimum. There’s both a positive and negative to this approach. Of course, I would have delighted in getting more detail about the magic systems or the history behind the setting, but in doing away with lengthy explanations, the story was able to move along at a good clip. There’s also the book’s audience to consider, as Estep was probably aiming for an epic fantasy with enough crossover appeal to her urban fantasy and paranormal romance fans. Subsequently, you have a very readable book told in an easy and sassy style, with just a light touch of romance that did not feel too overbearing.

If Estep’s goal was to write a highly accessible and entertaining high fantasy, I would say she succeeded. At the end of the day, Kill the Queen was a surprisingly good read, despite the story’s overall predictability and heavy reliance on well-worn tropes. While hardcore epic fantasy readers will likely find the plot too simplistic, the world too shallow, and the characters too paint-by-the-numbers for this novel to be truly engaging, for those of us who do not mind something a little lighter and fluffier—or just want to kick back with something fun—this will do the trick nicely. Highly recommended for gladiatorial action and palace intrigue, with potential for the series to grow over time.
Profile Image for Ari.
740 reviews172 followers
February 18, 2020
Blog | Amazon | B&N | Instagram | Twitter

I was a Bellonan,
and I was just as good at playing the long game as everyone else.
And through it all, I would keep one thing in mind,
...Someone always wanted to kill the queen.


Falling in love with a story is instinctive for me. Whatever the highs and lows of the book's writing and mechanics might be, I will blindly fall head over heels for it if it touches my heart.

Enter Evie and the plot to Kill the Queen.

The beginning of this novel is doubtful. We spend so much time, over the course of a couple of chapters, moving through the minutiae of Everleigh's day to the point of thinking “Is this really necessary?” You're nearly dulled into listlessly flipping through the pages, figuring this is going to be the pace and tone for the rest of the book.

And then you're thrown smack in the middle of a massacre, the plot explodes into action, and suddenly you can't read fast enough so that you can devour every single little detail. It was an ingenious play.

From that moment on, you rush to catch up with the goings-on in the story. At every twist and turn there's a new spark of excitement that keeps buildling up to Evie's big moment at the close. It's satisfying to see her grow into herself and evolve from the puppet that she had been used as at the start of the novel at court, to her own person while she delves into the world of The Black Swan, the troupe of gladiators who become her family.

Gladiators are something that is so strongly instilled in the culture of Bellona, and I was delighted by the fact that rather than glaze over this, Jennifer Estep took her time to not only bring it to the forefront, but give it the attention that it deserves. The fight sequences are not overly drawn out, but they are very nicely described. These are a people who fight, enjoy it, do it well, and the instruction that Evie receives while in this band of people is very well depicted. As is her growth and talent, something that we witness in the final and blaring encounter between Evie and Vasilia, our story's murderous antagonist.

Through it all we have the sizzling attraction bewteen Sullivan and Evie to deal with. While sometimes this can be a rather distracting thing in a novel that is not mainly romance, it was properly secondary to the plot in this one. It's both great and frustrating, because you want these two to get together,we know that they need to get together, but it never happens. It is so satisfying when an author waits past the first book in a series to get the lead couple (I hope) to come to terms with how they feel—Feyre and Rhysand, am I right? The intensity of the moment is so much more powerful and organic that it makes it well worth the wait.

But past them, the rest characters are a joy to encounter, from the gentle strength in the gladiator Paloma to the sickening machinations of Vasilia, Nox and Maeve. These characters drive a fun and engaging story, even during the moments when you're sitting at the edge of your seat hoping that one of your favorite ones won't be killed off.

It's been a treat to visit the world of Crown of Shards, and I cannot wait to travel to Andvari with this lot and see what else is in store for them.
Profile Image for Angela (Angel's Guilty Pleasures).
1,519 reviews855 followers
January 13, 2020
WOW, what a fabulous start to a new series by Jennifer Estep. When I first heard about this series I was very excited. I had just discovered Estep, Elemental Assassins series, and feel in love, so finding out a new series was coming I couldn’t pass it up.

Everything about this book captured me. We’ve got a spoiled villain, gladiators, magic, and a young women who must accept who she is, transform to save herself, and her kingdom.

Bellona is a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition and history. Lady Evie has a secret, one she must keep hidden. Her parents where killed and her life in the palace isn’t a good one, but she makes do until that fateful day when everyone is betrayed and assassinated. Evie has a journey ahead of her, one that will change her and the world.

Estep excels in writing strong heroines and bring the world and characters to life. Her world-building is impressive and she has a way with pulling me into the story. I loved the magic and the gladiator world. I also enjoyed many of the secondary characters from Lucas the handsome trainer, to the dance instructor, and also the leader of the gladiator troop. We get a nice balance of dark to light aspects in this story. It’s also full of secrets, laughter, action, adventure, and more.

I was kept on the edge of my set wondering what secrets we will learn and what will happen next in Kill the Queen. The story wraps up nicely, but their is still more to come and explore with a budding romance and a kingdom to secure. I can’t wait for the next installment.

Rated: 5 Stars

Jan. 2020: Audiobook OMG... LOVED the audio. Just as amazing as reading, but so much better in that the story comes alive. The voices where spectacular. I was on the edge of my set and couldn't stop listening.

angelsgp-seethisreview-blure
Profile Image for Brittany.
836 reviews111 followers
January 21, 2019
5 Stars!!
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


“Summer queens are fine and fair, with pretty ribbons and flowers in their hair. Winter queens are cold and hard, with frosted crowns made of icy shards.”

This was my very first Jennifer Estep book- But it will not be my last! I'm a FAN! I don't know what I was expecting with this book. I knew the Game of Thrones Comparison was a reach...and other than that, I had no idea what this book was about other than seeing it around on Goodreads. So- if you haven't read it- go into it blind because that made it even better!! PS- Its not really anything like GOT except for maybe one aspect- a fight for a throne.

Let me see if I can peak your interest... There are Women Gladiators



Shapeshifting Ogres



AND Elemental magic


The plot, though not original really, was steady- and always action packed . Esteps storytelling is addictive and unique. The pacing and world building obviously worked, and held my interest. The elemental magic aspects of her characters are unique, fun and engaging. I really liked Everleigh - she was dealt a terrible hand but overcame. I loved seeing her character growth throughout the book. I don't want to say much more because it really was fun reading it without expectations- I never wanted this book to end. I absolutely recommend Kill the Queen if you're looking for an action packed, addictive fantasy read!
Profile Image for AziaMinor.
404 reviews50 followers
August 28, 2020
Overall Rating : C-

"Summer Queens are fine and fair, with pretty ribbons and flowers in their hair. Winter Queens are cold and hard, with frosted crowns made of icy shards."

description

You know how one book has the ability to be good - not great, but good and interesting - and it's ruined by one aspect that you cannot ignore? This is one of those times.

Beautiful world, great lore, interesting people with powers and hidden agendas, all destroyed by the main protagonist, Everleigh Saffira Winter Blair😠. Her character massacred any good feelings I had about this book.

Hypocritical, haughty, 180 personality traits, STUPID AS HELL decisions, it was the perfect storm. Just the way she put down others for being sneaky, playing the "long game", deceitful, and she's the exact same way!! Like, girl, get a clue! I even remember a review I read about the constant abuse of the saying "old Everleigh" this, and "new Everleigh" that. 100% accurate it was so annoying.

By the end of the book I wanted her dead and gone, but we don't always get what we want so this series is a bust for me.
Profile Image for Mlpmom (Book Reviewer).
2,976 reviews363 followers
September 17, 2018
It truly is hard to put down any book Estep writes but I have to say, Kill The Queen is one that was impossible to put down. From the very first few bloody chapters right up until the spectacular ending, I knew that this was going to be a series I wanted, no, needed, more of.

Right from the beginning this screams Estep with the classic allure of both food references and bloody fight scenes along with a strong female MC that you just know is going to kick butt and take names along the way.

I absolutely adored not only the originality in this but the pure awesomeness of, well, everything. The setting has this almost historic fantasy feel to it that sets it apart from others in the genre. With a flare of magic and adventure it really was so very hard to resist.

I am on edge for the next book to see where it will go from here.

*ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Profile Image for Lady Heather .
1,290 reviews698 followers
September 24, 2018
 photo Kill the Queen Blog Tour Banner.1.jpg

Jennifer Estep is a New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea.

Jennifer writes the Crown of Shards epic fantasy series. Kill the Queen, book #1, will be released on Oct. 2.

The Crown of Shards series focuses on Everleigh Blair, a member of the royal family who is distantly in line for the throne of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. But when the unthinkable happens, Evie finds herself fighting for her life—both inside and outside the gladiator arena.



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SYNOPSIS

The thrilling first novel in the Crown of Shards epic fantasy series combines magic, murder, and adventure when an unlikely member of the royal family suddenly becomes a contender in a clash for the crown . . .
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 combat, 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.


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"5- I dance to a different beat- Stars!"

Just...WOW!

I would give this book more than 5 stars if I could!
This book was an incredible story of lies, treachery, deceit, and hidden agendas.
There were so many twists and turns and unexpected circumstances and secrets that were wonderfully executed and beautifully revealed at the end.

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This story had an amazing ensemble of characters who played their roles perfectly and flawlessly right till the bitter end.

It was all about the long game, and if there was anything Evie learned from living in the shadow of the castle for fifteen years, it was that she learned how to execute her long game exquisitely.

Evie was an amazing character to read about and she developed beautifully through the story.
I loved how she found her voice, courage, and strength to stand up and be the person... the leader she was meant to be and finally say "no more".

Great story and an amazing start to a new series!

EXCERPT

Two hours later, I poured the last of the cranberry-apple filling into the final pie crust, then reached for the orange flakes.
“Whether you’re a cook master or not, the secret is not to overdo the orange,” Isobel instructed, the same way she had on the previous pies. “Most people shake the flakes on like they’re common salt. But too much orange, and that’s all you’ll taste. So go around the pie once, gently tapping on the jar three times with your index finger. That’s the perfect amount.”
I did as she said, watching the tiny, delicate granules melt into the fruit filling like perfumed snowflakes. Then I drew in a deep breath, letting the air roll in over my tongue and tasting all the scents in it. The buttery crust, the sugary fruit, the hint of orange that curled through it all. Delicious aromas that would bubble up and become even more pronounced, fragrant, and intense as this pie and the others baked.
Despite my own condescending view of my mutt magic, my enhanced sense of smell was one of the reasons why I had always gravitated toward Isobel and the kitchen. All the sweet scents here made the bitter reality of my life a little easier to bear.
“Perfect! That’s my girl.” Isobel beamed at me, and I smiled back at her.
She arranged a few strips of crust on top of the filling, creating a pretty lattice pattern, then slid the pie into the oven. Isobel had taken pity and had helped me make the pie crusts, although she had insisted on my preparing the cranberry-apple filling, orange flakes and all, claiming that it was the most important part.
I often helped Isobel, as I enjoyed spending time with her, and the kitchen was a welcome refuge from other, less-friendly sections of the palace. She had slowly turned me into a decent cook, despite my not being a master. But after making so many pies in a row, I had all the ingredients, measurements, and motions memorized, and I felt like I could craft them in my sleep now. Just as I could bow, curtsy, dance, and make polite, inane chitchat in several languages. And those were just some of the many trivial skills that I’d learned as the unofficial royal stand-in.
While Queen Cordelia and the rest of my Blair cousins were dealing with ambassadors and the like, I was attending all the functions they could not, due to their oh-so-important and exceedingly busy schedules.
Breakfast recitals, charity luncheons, afternoon teas. I went to all those and more every week, both here at the palace and out in the city. Most of the time, it wasn’t so bad. Usually, all I had to do was smile, nod, and shake hands, along with thanking people for their time, admiring their music, artwork, or goods, and giving short and exceptionally vague speeches about how disappointed Queen Cordelia was that she couldn’t attend herself. At the very least, I almost always got a free meal out of the proceedings.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Jennifer is also the author of the Elemental Assassin, Mythos Academy, Bigtime, and Black Blade fantasy series.

For more information on Jennifer and her books, visit www.jenniferestep.com or follow Jennifer on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter. You can also sign up for her newsletter.


Website: http://www.jenniferestep.com/
Blog: http://www.jenniferestep.com/blog/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JenniferEstep...
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Jennifer_Estep (@Jennifer_Estep)
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/...
Newsletter signup: http://www.jenniferestep.com/contact-...



"I voluntarily read an ARC of this book."
Profile Image for Stacey.
1,447 reviews1,162 followers
May 16, 2019
Ummm...where's the romance???

Kill the Queen has been on my radar for a wee while. Sure, the title is interesting and I've heard about Jennifer Estep and her talent with Para-Fantasy, but that wasn't the drawcard. The heroine on the cover is wearing black leather pants. I'M A SUCKER FOR BLACK LEATHER PANTS!! I think they look so cool. I WANT TO BE COOL!! I have some leather-look ones, which I think look pretty amazing, but you can't compare to the real deal. I want to look as BADA$$ as Evie...but I'll leave the acting BADA$$ for the professionals.

I really enjoyed the audio for Kill the Queen. The story was fantastic and Lauren Fortgang did an amazing job of bringing the characters to life for me. The narrator has a very easy voice to listen to and I never struggled to tell when the characters changed or when inner-monologue changes to dialogue. This is the second audio I've listened to from this narrator and it will definitely not be my last.

Kill the Queen was the kind of story that I find extremely hard to stop or even pause. I was at work today knowing that I only had one hour left of the story. IT WAS BLOODY TORTURE!! I was desperate to see if good would win over evil and whether or not we'd finally get to a bit of L❤VING. Sadly, I was left a wee bit disappointed. There's this teeny weeny flicker of romance for like 2.5 seconds, but sadly, he was being too sensible and good intentiony. BLOODY IDIOT!!

I loved the strength and determination Evie showed when it seemed like there was no hope. At the beginning of the story, I never once considered Everleigh as a champion for her people. She came across as a bit of a doormat, timid and weak. Being away from her horrible and despicable cousins helped to change her into the woman she was always meant to be...strong, confident and determined to see justice served.

The additional characters were very interesting and I can't wait to spend more time with the Black Swan Gladiators. I will definitely be back for Protect the Prince and hopefully, I'll get the romance I was hoping for.

I'm looking at you, Lucas Sullivan...stop being so good intentiony. 😉

Profile Image for Annie .
2,426 reviews803 followers
October 2, 2018


When I first heard about this series, I was very excited about it. I find that this entire concept in intriguing not to mention that the title of this book captures your attention very well.

Jennifer Estep excels at writing strong heroines and Lady Everleigh is no exception. This series is marketed as Gladiator meets Game of Thrones and I can definitely sense that here. It has a ton of emotion to it, most of it negative as it deals with revenge and anger. However, Estep’s writing style keeps it from being too much of a downer. I found that I enjoyed the story despite it being a bit slow to begin with. That’s expected though since this is the first book in the series and the author must explain the workings of the world. I think if you’re a fan of Estep’s writing and the Fantasy genre, then you’ll probably enjoy this new UF world that she has created.

I don’t think I’ve read anything quite like this book so it was especially entertaining for me to dive into. I can already tell that this series will have a good number of fans because of its kickass heroine and unique style. So if you’re looking for a new series to sink your teeth into, this one should definitely be on your list to read!
Profile Image for Sunny.
1,423 reviews
May 13, 2020
4.5 stars

With a beginning reminiscent of The Red Wedding episode from Game of Thrones, Jennifer Estep starts her new series off with an unforgettable beginning. I was quickly drawn into the intrigue as I dropped into the life of the royal court of Bellona. Having grown up as the "throw away" cousin because of her lack of powers and her status in the progression to the throne, Evie is overlooked (unless she is needed to attend to a minor event that no other royals wants to attend).

I am impressed with Evie's evolution which is, at times, both inspiring and sad. The book really takes off when she starts to own her voice and future. There are lots of intriguing characters and lots of back stories still to be told. I cannot wait.
Profile Image for Ian.
1,336 reviews188 followers
October 10, 2018
This book is Jennifer Estep at her most "Jennifer Estep-iest".

An orphan with a rare type of magic does battle with an evil queen to save the kingdom and prevent a war. If that doesn't sound familiar my question is, where have you been?

So yeah. It's pretty much every Jennifer Estep book but I don't think that's a problem. Most of those books were pretty damned entertaining and Kill the Queen is up there with the best of them.

5 Stars because it's great, minus 1 Star because it really is just like every other Jennifer Estep book.
Profile Image for Mei.
1,879 reviews404 followers
October 18, 2018
This is the first book I read from this author because I think the others were NA/YA and that's not for me.
Also, I'm not overly fond of 1st person narrative, but in this case it worked very, very well!
Anyhow, I liked it very much!



The action is logical and the heroine, Evie, is excellent! She's intelligent.

At the beginning she's repressing her nature because she knows that if she doesn't she'll be putting herself in harm's way.

But, when all hell's been loosen, and she's left alone and without anything, she knows that keeping her indentity's secret is the best way to survive.

She listenes and evaluates everything and reacts, for the first time in her life, freely. She's not repressing herself anymore. She replies to taunts with quick wit. And she demands the respect she's due.

I liked her reasoning and her willingness to work hard for herself!

The story is very inetersting and the secondary characters are interesting as well. They're also keeping secrects of their own, but Evie is smart enough to discover them one by one.

Obviously, she doesn't have enough informations to understand all of their secrets, but she learned her lesson very well during her life on court to know that you cannot just blindly trust the first person who acts freindly. I appreciated her caution.

There's almost no romance in this book. Just a hint of ineterst between Evie and Sullivan that I hope will be developed in the next book/s.

I also loved that the action is strong and interwoven with clever use of magic and lore.

There was a slightly unbelievable fact about Evie becoming a very acomplished gladiator/warrior in a very short time, but, hey, this is fiction so I accepted it.

I'm really looking forward to the next book and hope it will live up to this one!
Profile Image for Jeffe Kennedy.
Author 94 books1,211 followers
April 3, 2018
I'm just thrilled to welcome Jennifer Estep to the Fantasy Romance Dark Side. She brought the BEST FREAKING COOKIES! She's calling it epic fantasy, but I think the romance - a sizzling, very slow burn, as in, you don't even get a kiss, people - is too delicious not to mention.

Her heroine is awesome, storytelling flawless. Great characters and conflict. I devoured it over the weekend which I now bitterly regret because I wish I could be still reading it.

Cannot wait to get my mitts on the sequel: PROTECT THE PRINCE.

(Oh yeah, I'll help. SIGN ME UP TO BE BODYGUARD)
Profile Image for Carole (Carole's Random Life).
1,634 reviews448 followers
October 10, 2018
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

This was a fantastic story! As soon as I saw this book online, I knew that I wanted to read it. Since this book is the beginning of a brand new series, I was really excited to give it a try. I did have a bit of a slow start with this book but that had everything to do with me and nothing to do with the book because the book was great. Once I had some time to dedicate to reading, I ended up devouring the bulk of this book in a single day. This was a story that grabbed me and didn't want to let go.

Lady Everleigh's life is about to change. She lives in the royal court and is actually seventeenth in line for the throne but she is treated rather poorly. She is often the token royal sent to do the things that more important royals don't want to do like bake pies or learn complicated dances. Things go horribly wrong at an event at the palace and soon Everleigh is more focused on survival than anything else.

I try to go into books as blindly as possible and I don't think I even read the entire summary for this book before I got started with it. I do recommend going into this one blindly because I think that the book's summary gives a whole lot away. I was completely shocked by some of the turns this book took which I think added to my enjoyment.

I thought that Everleigh was a fantastic character. I loved how much growth we saw in her over the course of the story. She starts out knowing her place in the world and just trying to do what was expected of her to the best of her ability. She proves to be quite resourceful and has a lot of strength she didn't know she had. Even at her toughest, she never stopped thinking about others and was willing to make huge sacrifices in order to protect those she cared about.

This book had a lot going for it. There are some pretty intense action scenes that really kept the excitement level high. I thought that the world building was very well done and loved all of the different ways that magic could manifest in an individual. I thought that the relationships between the characters were very well done and felt quite authentic. I liked that there is just a hint of romance worked into the story.

I would highly recommend this book to fans of fantasy or urban fiction. I thought that this book was a fantastic story filled with a lot of action and characters that I grew to care about. I can't wait to read more from this wonderful series!

I received a digital review copy of this book from Harper Voyager via Edelweiss.

Initial Thoughts
This was really good! I kind of had a slow start with this one but that had everything to do with my life and nothing to do with the book. Once I had the chance to really sit down and read, I didn't want to put this book down for a moment. I just loved the characters and thought that the world-building was very well done. There was plenty of action to keep the story moving forward. I can't wait to read more from the series.
Profile Image for Geri Reads.
1,232 reviews2,023 followers
October 11, 2018
“The day of the royal massacre started out like any other. With me doing something completely utterly useless.”


All it took was that line and I was instantly hooked.

Kill the Queen is a fast paced, exhilarating new fantasy series from Jennifer Estep. Filled with magic and intrigue, Kill the Queen will leave you breathless with excitement as you follow Evie’s journey from a meek orphan girl to a force to be reckoned with.

Part Gladiator, part Game of Thrones, Kill the Queen is about Evie’s journey. In a world where magical abilities determines a person’s worth, Everleigh is at the bottom rung of the ladder in Bellona. No one thinks she will amount to anything. Everleigh of course is hiding a magical ability that could change the power structure in the palace. When Evie’s murderous cousin violently took the throne, Evie was forced to fight for her survival. She found help in the most unlikely place, the gladiator troupe with connections to the murdered queen. With her cousin intent on wiping out her family line and no one to trust, Evie has to learn not only how to fight not just for her survival but fight to win the kingdom for herself.

The most striking and enjoyable aspect of this story for me was Everleigh’s journey. When readers first met her, she’s meek and tends to hide away from everyone. Not that I blame her, of course. Her family treated her horribly so when she finally served them their revenge cake, it was glorious.

Another element that I really enjoyed was the gladiator troupe that took Evie in especially Serilda and Lucas Sullivan. They are two very intriguing characters that I’m really hoping will get more page time in the next books.

I’m also intrigued by the budding relationship between Lucas and Evie. While there isn’t technically romance in this book, Estep is definitely laying the groundwork for one. So I’m intrigued and hopeful that there is more romance in the next books because I definitely see the sparks between Lucas and Evie, so I want that relationship go somewhere.

I highly recommend this book even if you’re not necessarily a fantasy reader because I think this is great gateway book for the genre. But seasoned fantasy readers will have something to latch on to with this book as well. It’s definitely intriguing and action packed.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,385 reviews810 followers
January 4, 2019
Someone always wanted to kill the queen.

This was great! I’ve only read Estep’s Elemental Assassin books, not any of her other UF tales, but as soon as I saw this, even before its release, I knew I’d be excited to see Estep writing something different. I loved it. This is a more traditional style fantasy, a historical medieval vibe. There are gargoyle and ogre shifters, and magic of different kinds, although not any that Evie possesses. Evie transitions from something of a weakling with no friends, to a woman confident in herself and friends who love her. A damn good read!
Profile Image for Terri ♥ (aka Mrs. Christian Grey).
1,372 reviews471 followers
October 10, 2018
So much to say.

First, the positive. I love this author and her imagination. She is a one click author for me. (that hasn't changed). The premise of this book is promising, but failed for me. Why? See below.

SPOILER ALERT - please note I listened to audiobook. spellings of names and places may not be correct.

Everleigh (Evie) is Gin 2.0.
Gin - Stone magic to harden skin to protect against magic. Evie - Null magic she summons through her to protect against magic attacks.
Gin & Evie - parents died tragically (murder) when she was a child forcing her to live with others.
Gin & Evie - destined to rule (in whatever way) whether they want to or not.

Evie being like Gin might not be a bad thing except I didn't like Evie much. She acted dumb throughout the book. All her choices felt like plot devices and not normal recations.

Example - The queen (whom didn't like her all that much) tells her in her dying breath when she realizes that Evie was good for the kingdom that she needs to seek out and trust this other woman to protect the kingdom from her wayward daughter. Evie having no choice seeks out the woman but decides not to trust her. Hmmm. Really, why would the queen lie to her in her dying breath? But okay. I'll give Evie a pass. But once she hears that woman is trustworthy why not tell her the truth? Because she still doesn't trust her??? Plot device and not a normal reaction.

Sorry. I could have bought Evie being selfish and thinking I'm not going to tell this woman (when she meets her or when she learns she'd be on her side), I have no desire to be queen. If I tell her the truth shed'll force me into going for the crown. Okay, this option is selfish and goes against the character JE has created for her, but I could have swallowed that.

How about a selfless option? If Evie thought, I'm not going to tell them (when she meets her or when she learns she'd be on her side) because I'll put them all in danger, I could have accepted that. That's right in line with her character.

But this, I don't think I can trust them when all the signs point to the fact that she could (and she opens up to a virtual stranger and tells her the secret about her null magic her mother warned her not to tell with no good reason) but she keeps who she is a secret from those that demonstrated they were trust worthy. I didn't buy it.

Can I say I didn't buy it when Evie said my friends about the group. Palmona and Lucus yes. The two others no (black swan lady and cho). When did they do anything for her or have conversations. It was weird.

Then the world building... I could go on and on about this. But I will stick with the big ones.

Her "null" magic for lack of a better word. Why is it when she danced for the ogars she could feel the frosty magic under her feet. First, if it was a bother, why not bring her null magic to use so she doesn't mess up the dance. No. She doesn't do that. It's frosty in JE words. Evie's a winter queen in the making. Frosty should feel good. But the worst thing about this is the conflicting use of the null magic.

In another instance when she's holding the pearl, she has to contain her null power as to not take the magic out of the memory pearl. But then, she has to summon the null magic when Vasilla shoots her magic at her.

Which is it? Is the null power automatic or not??? Is it always working and she has to reign it in or does she have to summon it when she wants to use it. It seems the author couldn't decide as depending on the situation, it could be either option, which doesn't make sense.

And how exactly does null magic work on wormroot. This isn't a magically created poison but just plain poison. So how does null magic work. Not enough good explanation to make me buy this.

Also, I never felt that edge on my seat with Evie. I knew as the main character she wasn't going to die. So it took away from any battles she faced. I had no doubt she'd win. It made the battles useless.

Then overall the plot as a whole was predictable. Frankly I thought Evie a virgin for most of the book with her woe is me attitude, no one liked her, etc. etc. I was surprised to learn that she actually wasn't.

To tell the truth, I didn't like Evie and her dumbness very much.

Lucas. I liked him, but I wasn't surprised to learn he was a bastard prince. It was so obvious when Evie made that princely comment and his reaction. And when she didn't even speculate that, it made me see her as more dumb.

So now what's next.... obviously Evie will be forced to marry someone who isn't Lucas and a royal bastard. The only interesting thing is how she will get out of it and end up with Lucas.

I'm rooting for him, don't get me wrong. But if she marries someone else and has a child, that might make this interesting as it won't be predictable.

Will I read on? Sure. This was a average effort. But for JE average is better than most. I'll give the next book a go and will see.
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