The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz tells three love stories set in a world where Arthurian magic and legends are very much still true and alive at the turn of the 20th century, where a princess doesn’t want to be the queen and a young witch would happily take her place. The setting of The Ring and the Crown is deliciously fresh with elements of steampunk (alternative historical setting), fantasy (magic!), and romance (the feels!!). While I’m not actually much of a romance person myself, the characters in The Ring and the Crown won me over easily and I found myself very much caring about how all of these relationships (romantic and platonic) would work out.
Note: I received The Ring and the Crown from the publisher for an honest review. Some things may have changed in the final version.
The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz (The Ring and the Crown #1)
Published by Disney Hyperion on April 1st, 2014
Genres: Historical Fantasy, Romance, YA
Page Length: 384 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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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 is addictively readable. The writing is fast and fluid. The PoV changes every chapter and many of the chapters are quite short, so you find yourself reading about only a bit of each romance before switching to another. This worked great for me as someone who isn’t a huge romance reader since I never found myself getting tired of any of the storylines and everything was able to weave together as The Ring and the Crown progressed.
- While the description makes it sound like there are two main characters, there are actually more like five between all the girls and their romantic interests (some of whom get PoV chapters as well as the girls). With five main characters, I found it very easy to stay engaged with The Ring and the Crown, whereas I think if I was only reading one of the stories straight through, I might have gotten bored. It was also quite interesting finding out how all the characters knew each other and how things were going to all get tied together ;-).
- There are a lot of romantic relationships in The Ring and the Crown, but the three that stick out to me after finishing were very well written and I did find myself crying by the end, which means that I connected enough with several of the characters to really care what happened to them! Seriously though, all the feels! And feels in all different directions because The Ring and the Crown doesn’t have just one romance to root for.
- I’m not anywhere near an expert on Arthurian legends and retellings, but I thought that those elements were woven into the world of The Ring and the Crown very well. I could easily tell who each of the retold characters were referencing from the myths and I found myself looking forward to seeing how different elements would play a role.
- The ending of The Ring and the Crown was not at all what I had come to expect and I was very pleasantly surprised in an all the feels kind of way! I now have much more respect for de la Cruz as a writer for going in the direction she did, yey!
- The first two thirds of The Ring and the Crown are each of the separate romance plots and then all of a sudden at the end all of these other plot things happen and everything comes together. I was over halfway and realized that nothing besides romance has really happened and then I found the rest of the plot. I really wish that that had happened far sooner, obviously.
- This was a really strange thing to encounter, but in the ARC at least there are several modern-day song lyrics included in between the parts of the book. While the subject material was certainly appropriate, it really wrecked the mood for me since it pulled me out of this cool 20th century alternative world and into ours with an earworm.
- I don’t think that the blurb for The Ring and the Crown makes it clear enough just how romance and scandal-focused this book is. Like I said above, the first half is pretty much nothing but boys meeting girls, girls tittering about meeting boys, etc., not this princess-and-witch-switching-places plot that we’re promised.
- There are a number of times in The Ring and the Crown where I had to roll my eyes at the amount of “telling” instead of “showing.” It honestly felt like the character was pausing the scene to deliver an aside for the reader instead of that important fact being incorporated earlier or something.
The Ring and the Crown was a very enjoyable read, even for someone who claims to not like romance, haha. I found myself surprisingly enthralled with the lives of these teens in this amazing alternative world and I can’t wait to read more of de la Cruz’ addictive writing. I’m stoked about this world being expanded upon further in the rest of the series and especially recommend this fantasy to those who do really like romantic elements, though have tissues ready!
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz
© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.