I received this book via the publisher, Balzer + Bray. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.Rise of the Vicious Princess by C.J. Redwine
Series: Rise of the Vicious Princess #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on 2022-06-14
Length: 423 pages
Reviewing eARC Rating:
Reading Challenges: 2022 New Release Challenge, COYER 2022
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—from C.J. Redwine, the author of the Defiance series and the New York Times bestselling Ravenspire series. Perfect for fans of These Violent Delights, And I Darken, and Ash Princess.
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, nearly killing the queen, Charis must assume her mother’s duties and manage both the war and her kingdom. But as 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, she accidentally falls in love with the wrong boy.
But her enemies are much closer than Charis realizes, and her heart isn’t the only thing she has left to lose.
Unputdownable! Rise of the Vicious Princess by C.J. Redwine is the first book in a new YA political fantasy duology. Calera has been at war with its neighboring kingdom Montevallo for 19 years. As a result, the kingdom is reaching the end of its coffers, it’s citizens are losing faith in their monarch, and both sides are desperate to find an end. When an assassination attempt inside the palace leaves the queen near death, Princess Charis Willowthorn steps into the role she was born to play. With enemies at every turn and unsure of the few friends she has, Charis must chart her own path and find a way to suss out the spy within the palace.
I love Charis. I wasn’t sure at first. She is fierce, loyal, stubborn, and exactly what a princess and ruler should be. She puts her citizens’ needs first and hers last. Charis proves over and over again that she will do whatever is necessary to protect her kingdom, even sacrificing her own dreams and self. I was impressed with her singular focus, however it also made me sad. She was raised to be ruthless, and she is, but she also has a large heart that she hides behind the an armor of rage. She pulls on her anger for strength to face whatever is needed of her. Few see her for who she truly is.
Then enters Tal. Tal is her father’s personal guard, but after the failed assassination attempt on the queen and an assassin is found in the princess’s own chambers, Tal is sent to protect Charis. He is quiet, but his presence is calming for Charis. He is a solid reassurance that she is safe, or as safe as she can be with assassins trying to get her. I love Tal. He is simply an amazing character. There is so much we don’t know about him, but what little we do is easy to love.
As much as I love Tal and Charis, the world-building is phenomenal. I was fully immersed in Calera, their war, and all the political clashes that come with it. I became quite attached, forming my own (strong) opinions on certain members of the council and wishing I could advise Charis myself. The foreshadowing is superb. There are enough hints that if you pick up on them you will know what is coming which is dramatic irony at its finest. Or if you are like me, you’ll see those hints but they won’t register until it’s too late and then you’ll want to reread the book with a new light. But that’s just me 😉
Overall, I loved Rise of the Vicious Princess. I intended to read it slowly, savor it, knowing it will most likely be at least a year before I get the conclusion, but I couldn’t I read it in almost one sitting, unable to turn the pages fast enough. Charis is a fantastic character, the romance is slowly built and a perfect balance of steamy and sweet, and the plot is heart-stoppingly fast paced. If you are a fan of YA fantasy, then this is a must read.