Review: Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep

Reviewed by Jen

Kill the Queen is the first in Jennifer Estep’s new high fantasy series Crown of Shards. It feels remarkably like this author’s Elemental Assassin series. The particulars, of course, are different. The setting in particular. However, the heroine reminds me a lot of Gin Blanco and even the feel of the magic has something in common.

Evie is part of the royal family, but just barely. She is 17th in line for the throne, and orphan who is essentially a ward of her cousin, the queen. She is at the bottom of the family food chain. She has to do the ceremonial jobs no one else wants to do: Learn other languages, cultures, dances; she even has to bake special pies. But she does what she must keep a roof over her head and to stay in her cousin’s good graces. Even forces herself to get along with the crown princess Vasilla, who has been cruel to her since childhood.

Everything turns on its ear, though, when Vasilla stages a coup, killing everyone in the family. Everyone that is, except for Evie. Vasilla thinks she is dead, but in reality, Evie sneaks away to a gladiator camp where a former crown guard now rules. She stays undercover, learning to fight, learning to survive, until the time comes where she must embrace her identity and her destiny.

Though on the surface, at first, Evie feels softer than Gin Blanco, she is fueled by the same kind of controlled rage and revenge that drives her counterpart. She does feel younger than Gin, though. She supposed to be in her late 20s but she reads much younger than that. It is not innocence necessarily. I don’t know how describe it. She just reads more like she’s 20 or 21 than 27. This feels in many ways like a coming of age for her as she comes in to her legacy.

The magic system feels very similar to the Elemental Assassin books as well. Like the way the villain wields lightning. I know there was an EA villain who did as well. And there is a metal master here and a metal master there. Evie’s ability to absorb and nullify magic is new, but the rest of it feels familiar. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it. Just like I enjoy the Elemental Assassin books. I’m not sure there’s really anything wrong with being able to identify an author by her writing style. If nothing else, the way Estep describes the preparation of food would’ve given her away to one of her readers. She always makes everything sound like it tastes delectable.

There is a romance thread, although it is very mild and doesn’t have an opportunity to amount to much. It’s more of a promise of one. And that was OK. This is not meant to be a romance. This is about our heroine and her evolution into a woman capable of being a queen. I liked it. I liked the group of gladiators, in particular. And Vasilla was easy to hate which made every even easier to root for.

This wasn’t a read that engaged me a whole lot emotionally, but I did enjoy it. I will continue with the series to see where it goes next.

Rating: B

*ARC provided by publisher

Click to purchase: Amazon

Kill the Queen
by Jennifer Estep
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Publisher: Harper Voyager

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