Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep was one of the books I was looking forward to the most from this year, and I finally got around to reading it! I’m so glad that I finally read it because it was just what I needed! Not only does it have a ton of murder (trigger warning for blood, gore, and all that) but it also has elemental magic, adventures, and a touch of romance.
The synopsis of this book right off the bat says it’s Gladiator meets Game of Thrones, and I can definitely see where this comparison comes from. It’s not an epic, sweeping fantasy with multiple viewpoints like GoT, but it does have a ton of gore and interesting fight scenes. This follows Evie, who is 17th in line for the throne of her country when her cousin murders her way to the throne. Evie then has to hide her identity to avoid being killed as well while trying to avenge her family and save her country.
I loved the different types of magic in this, especially how the power structure was based on how much magic you have and how well you can wield it. This particular kingdom also has a long history with gladiators, so fighting and holding your own are also highly respected in this world. Evie seems to have no magical ability and no fighting skills, so she is basically overlooked and is considered the royal stand in, meaning she goes to the events that none of the other royals want to go to. It isn’t a secret because it’s in the synopsis, but Evie has a hidden immunity to magic that helps her survive the massacre. It was an interesting magical ability, since it seems like it’s pretty rare. While the magic isn’t 100% original, it’s done in a way that makes it compelling and easy to read and enjoy.
Evie was a great character to read about, mainly because I saw a lot of myself in her. She starts off the book very quiet and invisible to all her royal family members, but eventually learns that in order to survive, she needs to stand up for herself and really shows who she is when she escapes the palace. She was snarky and got straight to the point, and I really enjoyed that. The romance that she has doesn’t show up until later in the book, and while it is definitely cliché, I still enjoyed it immensely because it’s a slow burn romance and is never the main focus of the book.
My main question with this book is about the winter queen, as it’s referenced a few times that there is a difference between the summer and winter lines of the royal family but it’s never once explained or elaborated on, which I’m really hoping we get more information in the next book. I also want to mention that the romance seems a little insta-lovey and Evie seems to gain sword skills overnight, but it is also mentioned that months have passed so it’s not as instantaneous as it seems.
So basically, the characters were engaging, the story was nonstop action, and while the synopsis does spoil a lot of the plot, I still wanted to know how it was all going to go down! There are a ton of tropes throughout this book and it isn’t the most original book in the world, but it was so enjoyable I didn’t even care! I’m so excited to see where this story goes and how Evie handles the next chapter of her life, and I’m really hoping we see more of the other kingdoms!