The Ring and the Crown
I received this book from Small Girls PR in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
by Melissa de la Cruz Amazon
• Book Depository
• Published by Disney Hyperion
on April 1, 2014 Genres: Fantasy
, Historical Fiction Pages:
Hardcover Source: Small Girls PR Goodreads
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.
If you’re looking for something that is like Downton Abbey in its amount of characters, and still maintains a great story… This book is for you. OH Also, this book is probably a few years or so away from DA and involves magic. So there’s that.
I’m going to let you know straight up with a trigger warning that this book does have a couple of unhealthy relationships involving sexual abuse. I think it’s an important conversation to have, especially in YA where it’s not every day that we talk about sexual abuse being in a novel that isn’t 100% focused on the victims of the abuse. Not to say that their stories are lessened, but it takes the story from all sides (including the brother of a villain). But I’m also mindful of triggers, so I don’t want to push this book at you if you find these elements to be triggering. As I said, it’s not EVERY part of the book, but it influences most of the characters we follow in the novel.
I feel like I should point out that in no way is the author advocating that abuse is okay. It’s definitely a “this is a thing that has happened in the past and still happens today, and it’s DEFINITELY not okay” message.
You know what’s really awesome? Reading a mixed-genre book that also talks about relationships and whatnot without feeling like it’s all over the place. Melissa de la Cruz hits that nail right on the head. You’ve got the queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, who was an actual real person, but in this book is somewhat immortal (she was born in the 1100s, but this book is set in the 20th century). On top of that little bit of magic, her right-hand-man-of-sorts has magical powers.
There’s a fun bit of twisted history as seen in this line:
“…The Redcoats and Her Majesty’s magicians had laid waste to the attempted sedition with their superior spell-casting.”
To get back to the whole “relationships” thing, let’s get one thing straight. It’s not all romance and lovey-dove crap. Sure, it’s set during the “season” which is basically when all these 18 year olds propose to one another and get married, and this year includes the princess, Marie. De la cruz shows us relationships that are healthy, but also the ones that are just the opposite. The ones that are sexually and mentally abusive. We actually get to read about two girls who go through similar situations. It would seem repetitive, but it’s actually vital to the plot with Leopold about to marry Marie take the crown.
There are some really great people. There are great guys like Louis and Wolf, and great women who are looking to heal and make their lives better. Oh, and there’s Percy and whats-his-face, the gay couple, and they’re the comedy in the book. Not in a poking-at-their-sexuality way, but just their commentary on everyone else in this book.
We do have Ronan, the American girl, who is kind of the opposite of ALL of these women. I don’t remember exactly if she runs up agains any sort of abuse, but it’s worth mentioning that she freaking starts her own business by the end of the book. LIKE WHAT.
Good dudes: Louis and Wolf -I really wish these boys — gentlemen — were real. Although we don’t get much detail about Louis, we know how much he cares for the women in his life. And Wolf.. Oh Wolf. It’s not that this dude can’t catch a break, but his brother is an asshole (just calling it like it is) and Wolf is such a loving brother. It’s not that he doesn’t know what’s going on, but there’s a great bit at the end when he talks about how he wish he would’ve done something about it. I feel like a lot of people can connect with him on that. Like, that you know someone(s) who have gone through some tough stuff and you just didn’t know how to help them either during or after, and you blame yourself. A lot. I get it. Also, I feel like there’s enough left unknown about Wolf that there could really be a prequel based on his times in America.
Bad dudes: Leopold, Hugh, Lanselin – Oh the binary characters. The good characters are very, very good and the evil characters are very, very evil. There are some characters that you know are doing some harsh things for the good of the many, but then there are people like Leopold that just… He’s bad. And his brother Wolf? Very, very good.
Marcus’s proposal had me rolling. I just… He was so nonchalant about it and the way Ronan reacted like, “Wait… What’s happening right now?!” Oh my goodness. It was just a great moment.
Also, you can’t have a novel involving balls without talking about FASHIOOOON. Seriously, these dresses. I know the exact year is never given, but we are told that the dresses are getting a little looser. There’s a few mentions of corsets (from Isabelle, who’s from France), but other than that it seems like they’re somewhere around the 1910’s, possibly? Definitely pre-World War I.
And last but not least, there were a few quotes before some of the chapters in the book that were so well placed. Included were some by Beyonce “Queen Bey” and of course Lorde, because you can’t talk about royals without mentioning Royals. Well done.
TL;DR – Amazing book that touches on some juicier themes, gives us great stories and characters— although rather binary, and the cover is absolutely fitting for the book.
Ooh check out this pretty…