Author: C.J. Redwine
Narrator: Lauren Ezzo
Audiobook Length: 11 hours 28 minutes
The first in a YA political fantasy duology about a fierce princess determined to bring lasting peace to her kingdom regardless of the cost to her heart.
Princess Charis Willowthorn is the dutiful sword of Calera. Raised to be ruthless and cunning, her only goal is to hold her war-torn kingdom together long enough to find a path toward peace with their ancient foe, Montevallo, even if the cost is her own heart.
When violence erupts in the castle itself and an unseen enemy begins sinking Calera’s ships, Charis realizes a threat much greater than Montevallo is coming for her people. So she forms a plan. By day, she is Calera’s formidable princess intent on forging an alliance with Montevallo. By night, she disguises herself as a smuggler and roams the sea with a trusted group of loyalists, hunting for their new enemies. And through it all, there’s the one boy she can’t have—who guards her life but steals her heart.
But her enemies are much closer than Charis realizes, and her heart isn’t the only thing she has left to lose.
Rise of the Vicious Princess is the first novel in a duology of the same name. The story follows Princess Charis Willowthorn of Calera, who was taught to rule while being weary of those around her, especially with the continued war. It opens with an introduction of the politics and characters, so readers should expect this well before the introduction of the smuggler element mentioned in the synopsis. Her main story moves through her journey to try and figure out the politics within her court, the war, and the mystery of the ships.
There is an interesting family dynamic with Charis and her parents. Her mother has a lot of expectations for Charis and is focused on preparing her to rule and in turn Charis wants to live up to them. Her father has an opposite approach where he wants Charis to experience more than just life as the next Queen. Throughout the story, the reader can follow Charis as both of her parents have influenced her as a person and how this affects those around her. I loved this part of her character building as even if each parent was not on the page, their influence and relationship with Charis was present.
Through events early in the story, Charis is assigned a personal bodyguard, Tal. The two begin as enemies, but slowly let their guard down to get to know the other. Their relationship was sweet as I enjoyed the two of them learning to trust each other. The chemistry and banter they share is enjoyable and I cannot wait to see how this romance further develops in the next installment.
Overall, this was a nice start to a duology. There is a slow build up, which was understandable to gain that foundation before the main action. If this were a standalone, then it would be too slow, for me. There were a few moments with telling rather than showing, so I wished this was explored more as I’m not a huge fan of just telling. The content itself was very interesting, although it was predictable all the way to the end, for me. Some readers may agree, and others may not, so they should read it for themselves if they are curious about the story. While I do not think I will re-read this one, I will definitely try the next installment to see how it all comes together!
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