Katie Reads: A Stolen Crown

*I received an electronic Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

I don’t even know where to start this review because there was so much I loved about A Stolen Crown by Kelsey Keating. It felt as if Keating was given a list of things I love in stories and sat down to craft a book for me.

One of the biggest features of the book was the friendship between Cecily and Rory. Not only did I love that a female friendship was the most important relationship of the book, but it was so refreshing to see two female friends who sometimes argue or fight, but never stop trusting each other completely and valuing each other. We also got some nice side friendships with some of the other ladies in waiting that Cecily has brought with her, and despite more limited “screen time” these other women still felt like complete characters with small arcs of their own.

Cecily’s attitude toward her arranged marriage was so refreshing for a fantasy story. Instead of portraying Cecily as a rebellious princess who hates the idea of marrying a man she has never met, Keating gives us a character who is realistically nervous but recognizes her duty to her country and to the people of her new country. Cecily voices her concerns to her friends, but never plays the victim.

Also, Cecily is a princess of color with big hair and big curves. She worries about her appearance, comparing herself to the thin women around her, but her friends consistently reassure her that she is beautiful the way she is. When Cecily starts eating less to try to lose weight, she is immediately reminded that her size is fine and that she needs to eat in order to stay strong and healthy. It was wonderful to see such a positive attitude about body size represented in the book.

The world building was unique, and the slow reveal of Rory’s secrets pulled me through the book. There were elements of humor, but the book didn’t shy away from touching one a few darker topics – abusive relationships, death, and attempted assault. I won’t go into too much detail, because I don’t want to spoil anything, but I loved the way Keating handled the attempted assault. Instead of shrugging it off as I’ve seen many fantasy novels do, in this world assault is an unforgivable crime worse than murder because murder could potentially have a good reason (self-defense, etc), but sexual assault never has a good reason.

A Stolen Crown is a little mature for my middle grade students (unless the student was a mature reader), but I would absolutely recommend it to high school and older readers. I already plan to recommend it to my friends who like fantasy.

The book is billed as the second in a series, however if I hadn’t noticed that in the description I never would have known. The book is either more of a companion novel or Keating did a fantastic job making this book stand alone. My next read is going to be the first book in the Stolen Royals series, and when A Stolen Crown is published I intend to buy a hard copy for myself. I’m very excited to have found a new author to love!

A Stolen Crown is available today so head on out to your favorite bookstore or order it on Amazon here!

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