The Ring and The Crown (The Ring and The Crown #1)
By Melissa de la Cruz
Published April 1st, 2014
Disney / Hyperion
Young Adult | Fantasy | Historical | Romance
Source: Received from Disney / Hyperion in exchange for an unbiased review (Thank You!)
About the book:
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.
The Ring and The Crown was one of those stories that reminded me of grand Merchant Ivory-type period films like Howard’s End or Sense and Sensibility; so many small stories weaving together to make up the greater plot, full of tragic circumstances, lost chances, hopes, failures, and lots of surprises.
Certainly a surprise for a YA novel and not the way I interpreted the synopsis. Curiously, by the time I finished the book, I realized that the plot had really gotten pretty far from the synopsis and my expectations of what the story was going to be. What was left was…. interesting. But for some crazy reason, I really need to continue reading this series to see where Ms. de la Cruz goes with her characters.
If you like historical soap operas, you’ll love this one.
The world for this story is a unique blend of historical England and Eastern Europe with magic that is out in the open. After a wicked demonstration of what you could do with your magic in the first few pages, the magic fell away to the background and only came out to play when it was needed or it helped resolve the plot. We did get to see the Americas at the turn of the century and even got to ride on a read-a-like Titantic. I did enjoy that.
So how about those small stories that twist and turn and wrap up into each other? There’s no less than four sub plots, perhaps even more if you count some of the supporting characters.
If you’re good at keeping track of multiple leading characters, you’re golden. Me? I was expecting the story to be about Marie and Aelwyn. I started reading and I was surprised to be following other characters that were just as significant to the story as Marie and Aelwyn were. There’s Ronan who is an American coming over to Europe, Wolf, the mysterious fighter, and Isabelle who just isn’t lucky… IMHO. And on top of those three (not literally, heads out of the gutter, peeps) we have about 8 or so more supporting characters whose names we have to remember (UGH).
This really ended up being a sweeping drama of court intrigue and the mystery of who is going to do what next. With a few surprises and an ending you most likely won’t see coming, this IS a worthy book and will definitely entertain. It may just be the vehicle to open up a teen’s mind to great big sweeping historicals of a more adult nature. You never know…
What ultimately saved this book for me (and has me wanting more) is the smart ending that I just didn’t see coming. I am officially hooked and wanting more.
And maybe perhaps the magic will come out and play a bit more next time around (please?).
About the author:
Melissa de la Cruz is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for teens including The Au Pairs series, the Blue Bloods series, the Ashleys series, the Angels on Sunset Boulevard series and the semi-autobiographical novel Fresh off the Boat.
Her books for adults include the novel Cat’s Meow, the anthology Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys and the tongue-in-chic handbooks How to Become Famous in Two Weeks or Less and The Fashionista Files: Adventures in Four-inch heels and Faux-Pas.
She has worked as a fashion and beauty editor and has written for many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Allure, The San Francisco Chronicle, McSweeney’s, Teen Vogue, CosmoGirl! and Seventeen. She has also appeared as an expert on fashion, trends and fame for CNN, E! and FoxNews.
Melissa grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. She majored in art history and English at Columbia University (and minored in nightclubs and shopping!).
Melissa lives in Los Angeles and Palm Springs with her family.