Title: Kill the Queen
Author: Jennifer Estep
Pub. Date: October 2, 2018
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.
This will be a spoiler free review. I listened to the audiobook via Audible.
This book had been sitting on my shelf for almost a year – I’d initially bought it to take to ApollyCon 2020, but that didn’t happen. I’d seen the book around, heard some good things and it sounded like something I’d like.
I’ve been in a high fantasy + romance mood, so I figured that this would be a good fit.
It was, I enjoyed this book. I did wish that the romance was a little more, a little heavier. It was a smoldering slow burn with flirtatious moments. I loved the chemistry between Evie and Sullivan – like loved it. From the first moment they met I knew I was going to be totally sunk for them. But more so, I loved Evie’s character arc in this book. She changes so much and becomes a much stronger person. Not that she was weak to begin with, but omfg her growth. She’s not weak at the beginning of the book, but everything she goes through before shit really starts to change for her…I applauded. She stood her ground and was set to go down swinging.
And then she just never stops. Never gives up. I mean, the sheer determined will of her. I was impressed and she’s so easy to like.
Then there’s Sullivan. I found him to be instantly likable, even with how he’s introduced. Maybe that’s because I instantly saw his and Evie’s relationship bloom right before my very eyes, but he easily became my next favorite character. I’m actually pretty excited to see what the second book has in store because I’m pretty sure it features him more heavily. And then there’s his big reveal and I’m so here for it.
I will also say, that I had no idea that this was an adult fantasy novel. There’s nothing wrong with that, I just had no idea going in that the MC was 28. So, I was a little surprised. But honestly, other than the ages of the characters, it read pretty much like an Upper YA Fantasy Novel and I easily got lost in it.
I liked the ending of the novel, and how it sets up for what’s bound to be a really intriguing and enjoyable book 2, but I do think it ended a little conveniently and quickly. The plot progresses pretty quickly in this book. I didn’t have a problem with it until I got the end and it felt like it all just happened too quickly.
I definitely recommend this book. Regardless of my few, minor complaints, I really did enjoy it. I had no expectations other than “it’s a high fantasy, yay!” and the draw of gladiators I was pulled in. The world comes to life in your mind and leaves you wanting the next book – good thing the trilogy is complete, and all the books are out. I know what I’ll be reading soon!
If you do pick this book up or have read it (or the series) let me know! I’d love to know your thoughts!