30 July 2014

{Book Review} The Ring and the Crown by Melissa De La Cruz

By: Me My Shelf And I | 30 July 2014 at 12:01 AM | | | | | | |


The Ring And The Crown
The Ring and the Crown #1
Author: Melissa De La Cruz
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: April 1st, 2014
Rating: 3 Birds

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.

Love. Riches. Status. Marriage. A princess. A traitor.

The Ring and the Crown is the first historical...ish book that I've read in a while. While it is set in historical London, New York, and Orleans at the turn of the 20th century, there happens to be a bit of magic that chops the historical genre down a notch. History is changed. Magic is a key element to winning wars as well as waging them. The Queen of England has the Merlin, the most powerful sorcerer, at her side. And the Prussians had Pandora's box. The only way to assuage the divide between these two countries: a royal wedding. Bring out your fancy clothes because we are going to the most decked out, elegant, romantic ball of the London Season: the Bal du Drap d'Or. Anyone who is anyone will be there. The social climbing American heiress who is secretly poor as dirt, the Merlin's bastard daughter just back from a long vacation (punishment, really) at Avalon; the sickly princess who would rather be anywhere but there and marry the man she loves rather than give herself away for a political union; the perfect pretty-boy heir to the Prussian throne with his charming, fist-fighting younger brother; and the displaced heir of Orleans forced to hand over her fiance to the princess, and surprised to be invited to the famous occasion. Romance is in the air. Deception is brewing. And treason is hiding in the shadow. Welcome to the world of The Rind and the Crown.

It took me quite a few tries to dive into Melissa de la Cruz's historical/fantasy novel, seeing as I was getting my feet wet with the first few chapters and wasn't expecting the vantage point of so many different characters with no prior notice. This being my first novel by her, seeing as I never had the chance to sit down and read her Blue Bloods series, I was intrigued and captivated by her gorgeous prose and the world-building of a magical turn of the century. That being said, after finally meeting the five protagonists of the novel--Marie-Victoria, Aelwyn, Leo, Wolf, Ronan, and Isabelle--I grew out of the slump that I had fallen into while starting the novel and particularly enjoyed the rest of the story. Sad to say this, but I failed to really connect with the characters and feel any real gradual development until the very end of the book. The five pivoting character viewpoints was enjoyable, but didn't grace me with an deep development seeing as the screen time for most of the characters were divided. Marie-Victoria is like most princess caricatures, dying to have a normal life, escape the duties of the crown, wanting true love rather than a political marriage. Aelwyn, there is so much about her character and the life she is pursuing that is left unsaid by the end of the novel. Same goes for Isabelle, the girl who always gets the short end of the stick, to the point that her character arc is extremely depressing. I do hope in the sequel things turn out better so that I can establish a deeper connection with the characters of this enchanting world.

By the end of the novel, it seems like everyone is given little epiphanies, information surrounding characters and questions that arose in the beginning of the novel are dumped for the reader just to tie up loose ends rather than having the characters scope out these gems of information. It was a let down, having the mysteries laid out for the characters, more importantly, the reader. It was like having my fortune read to me before I even cracked open the cookie. The suspense from the get-go of the novel was the romantic constellation of sorts that was brewing between almost every character that had a name in the novel. It was like trying to piece together the relationship chart for the manga/anime School Rumble. All over the place. I can say that there is one challenge that was astonishingly exciting that had my mouth was hanging, and that pretty much gave The Ring and the Crown brownie points because I was waiting for something juicy to happen, only took the final section of the book to really knock my socks off.

For fans of historical fiction with a magical twist, The Ring and the Crown is right up your alley. Though the characters failed to really captivate me, the world-building of The Ring and the Crown was breathtaking alongside Melissa de la Cruz's eloquent prose. I have high hopes for a better turn out in the plot and the characters regarding their development within the upcoming sequel, but I will read it nonetheless for a chance to dive back into the posh, regal, and magical world.

Visit Melissa De La Cruz on her website.

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