Author: Jennifer Estep
Bestselling author Jennifer Estep returns to her Crown of Shards world with an all-new trilogy and a bold new heroine who protects her kingdom from magic, murder, and mayhem by moonlighting as a spy.
Gemma Ripley has a reputation for being a pampered princess who is more interested in pretty gowns, sparkling jewelry, and other frivolous things than learning how to rule the kingdom of Andvari. But her carefully crafted persona is just an act to hide the fact that Gemma is a powerful mind magier—and a spy.
Gemma is undercover, trying to figure out who is stealing large amounts of tearstone from one of the Ripley royal mines when she encounters Prince Leonidas Morricone of Morta—her mortal enemy. Gemma tries to steer clear of the handsome prince, but when she finds herself behind enemy lines, she reluctantly joins forces with Leo. Also coming to Gemma’s aid is Grimley, her beloved gargoyle.
Despite the fact that Andvari and Morta are old, bitter enemies, a dangerous attraction sparks between Gemma and Leo. Further complicating matters is Leo’s murderous family, especially Queen Maeven Morricone, the mastermind behind the infamous Seven Spire massacre.
The closer Gemma gets to the stolen tearstone, the more deadly plots she uncovers. Everyone is trying to capture the crown, but only one queen can sit on the throne…
Capture the Crown is the first novel in the Gargoyle Queen series. This series takes place in the same world as the author’s Crown of Shards series. The main character in this new series is now an adult whereas she around twelve in the other series as a side character. Although I have not read the previous series, I will definitely pick it up as I greatly enjoyed this author’s style and want to read more of her books.
The main character in this series is Gemma Armina Merilde Ripley, crown princess of Andvari on the continent of Buchovia. She is the 29-year-old daughter of Dominic Ripley, the crown prince of Andvari and the granddaughter of Heinrich Ripley, the current king of Andvari. She has meticulously constructed her public persona to be “Glitzma,” where projects the image of a spoiled and pampered princess. In reality, she uses this persona as a cover for her work as a spy to investigate threats to her kingdom and family. Additionally, she is a mind magier, who is telepathic and has telekinetic powers. There are other magiers, which have magical abilities to conjure fire, lightening, or some other raw power. Her latest mission brings her to investigate the disappearance of tearstone from the mines, so she goes undercover as a miner.
Prince Leonidas Luther Andor Morricone, the son of Queen Maeven Morricone, second in line for the Mortan throne, is also a mind magier. He crosses paths with Gemma during his own investigation of the tearstone and the two stories become entangled. After a series of events, Leonidas ends up taking Gemma, who is undercover as Lady Armina, back to Mortan. Here a new investigation begins where there are dangers around every corner and it is difficult to tell who the most dangerous one will be. There is Queen Maeven Morricone, who Gemma remembers from her involvement in the Seven Spires Massacre, her other son, Milo Morricone and his fiancé Lady Corvina Dumond, and her daughter, Delmira.
Morta and Andvari are enemies, so it was fascinating to see Morta through the eyes of Gemma. There is a lot of political intrigue, secrets, and betrayals that this story keeps the reader on the edge of their seat as they do not know who to fully trust and which character will potentially come out on top. Additionally, there is a growing attraction between Leonidas and Gemma, but it is a tricky situation given their past and that they come from opposite kingdoms. I loved their banter and wished there was more as it was extremely enjoyable. There is definitely enough build-up to give the characters enough tension to not fully know how it will actually turn out. I also loved the strix in Morta as they are really amazing bird-like creatures. Lyra was an amazing companion to Leonidas and I loved how they cared for the other. Of course, my favorite non-human was Grimley, a gargoyle, as I loved his connection with Gemma.
Overall, there was a lot packed into this story to give an excellent introduction to this universe (or a reintroduction for those that read the other series). The pacing was great as the story was like a roller coaster with higher intensity moments mixed with some lulls to give added layers to the story and characters. The characters were all enjoyable and well-written and I am very curious to learn more about all of them. There is a lot more that I want to know, but I have faith that most of my questions will be answers the more I continue reading the series. I loved the plot twists as it really was impossible to see exactly what will happen next, but it was fun to guess. I enjoyed how the title was integrated into the story and how the sequel’s title tied in to the story that this one set up. It is going to be very difficult to wait until 2022 for the next story to be published!
**I give a special thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Avon and Harper Voyager, for the opportunity to read this entertaining novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**