I was really excited to start this book when I picked it up, and the summary sounded so tense and full of intrigue and drama. Unfortunately, things are rarely as good as we build them up to be in our heads.
Eight years ago, Tessana Allisand lost her entire family to murder and betrayal. Since that night, she has been hidden away in an isolated monastery, alone but for the silent monks who raised her, and the memories of that tragic loss. But when she rediscovers her lost lineage, she must journey across the kingdoms to the heart of the empire her family once ruled. With her, she carries the Crown of Nine, the ancestral crown of one hundred kings, as her only means to convince others of her identity, and that it is time for it to be given to a queen.
Her journey takes her across a land ravaged by violence and unrest, and back into the path of the prince to whom she had once been betrothed. With the fate of the nine kingdoms in the balance, both of them must decide where their loyalties lie, as more threatens the peace between the kingdoms than either of them could have imagined.
At least I wouldn’t have to worry about my uncle’s reaction to my sudden appearance on his doorstep. The bandits and ghosts would murder me first.― Rachel Higginson, Crown of One Hundred Kings
I really wanted to like this book. I really, REALLY, wanted to like this book. I don’t like to post negative reviews, and I always want to look for the best in everything I read. But when it came to Crown of One Hundred Kings I just didn’t get what I was hoping for. Maybe it’s because I’ve read quite a few books lately that have absolutely blown me away, but personally, I left this story feeling pretty disappointed.
What I Liked
- The Writing – Even if I didn’t love this story, there’s no denying the writing style is very competent, and at times even beautiful. There are a few bits here and there that could have been cut or condensed, but overall this was very well written, and very well paced. The author clearly has a gift with words, and it’s also clear she loves writing, and that passion shines through her narrative more than anything else.
- The Side Characters – There were a few secondary characters that I just couldn’t help but love. Oliver the monk-in-training was delightfully sarcastic, and served as a good balance for Tessana whenever they got into friendly little bickering matches. I just wish there had been more him in the story – we need more Oliver in our lives!
What I Didn’t
- The Story – Unfortunately, if you’ve read any fantasy YA story in your life, you’re probably going to guess everything that happens in this plot almost immediately. Not every story has to have a monumental twist, and good stories can be written by using old formulas, but it does become incredibly frustrating when a big reveal is obvious from the first chapter, and the narrative still drags it out as far as it possibly can.
- The Characters – I won’t say these are terrible characters, because they are fairly likeable for the most part, but they end up feeling as formulaic as the story. There doesn’t seem to be too much development beyond their character role: the rebellious prince, the good king, the evil usurper, the sidekick, etc. Even Tessana, the heroine, only seems to have surface level motivations (she wants to return to her home and become queen because… she does) and her character doesn’t really change throughout the narrative, despite her going on a harrowing quest. There’s a lot of potential here, and it ends up feeling a bit wasted by the end.
- The Villains – There are no surprises here – if you are a villain in this story, it’s obvious from the start, regardless of whether or not it would benefit you to be subtle about your evil intentions. Villains are often half the fun of the story, but these guys are so blatantly transparent about their evilness that I started to question why everyone else in the kingdom waited this long to do something about them! And that, for me, takes some of the fun out of it.
- The Fox – This is a really specific point, but it bothered me every time it was mentioned. Tessana finds a baby fox in the woods and decides to take it along with her – because of course she does. And she never, ever, gives it meat. Not. Once. I know that foxes aren’t picky eaters, but I draw the line when you try to force a carnivore onto a diet of just biscuits and milk. Give the poor thing some meat already! Seriously!
Unfortunately, this book just wasn’t for me. Having a basic fantasy plot, or using well-used character tropes, is absolutely fine but there should also be something more beyond that, besides a quest and a moustache-twirling villain. I’m sure others might find this story a lot more interesting than I did, but it just didn’t work for me.
Title: Crown of One Hundred Kings
Author: Rachel Higginson
Publisher: Reckless Siren Publishing
Date Published: October 27, 2020
Series: Nine Kingdoms Trilogy
PS: Decided to try something new with the review style. Let me know what you think in the comments!