Kill the Queen had me hooked from its first two sentences: “The day of the royal massacre started out like any other. With me doing something completely, utterly useless.” From this inauspicious beginning, things rapidly go even further downhill for the protagonist, Evie – officially Lady Everleigh Saffira Winter Blair, a very minor royal in the Kingdom of Bellona. By the end of that same day, she has barely survived the massacre and is on the run with pretty much nothing to her name other than a bracelet (possibly magical), a memory rock (Bellonan equivalent of a video recorder), and her wits (luckily quite considerable).
And what a run it is – she finds hitherto unsuspected strength in herself, gets tutored in how to be a gladiator, finds ingenious uses for some of those “completely, utterly useless” skills, makes some genuine friends of her own, and finally ends up challenging her cousin, the queen who caused the massacre, for the crown. Of course, the “unsuspecting-royal-done-down-who-finds-her-footing-and-comes-back” is a bit of a trope, but in this case, Estep executes it so well that I didn’t even mind that it was a trope, and just kept reading to see how Evie was going to overcome the next challenge thrown in her path.
I’ve never read any of Estep’s other series, which sound as if they might not be quite as light-hearted, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one – enough that I finished it over the course of a couple of evenings, while snapping at my husband and son to not bother me! Kill the Queen is the first title in Estep’s Crown of Shards series, and both of the remaining titles have already been published, so if you read this one and like it, you can binge on all three. Or, if you have a little patience they do go on sale from time to time as well. I’ll also be posting reviews for the other two soon, and price drop alerts if I see any of them go on sale, so keep an eye out here on Mostly Mysteries too!