Author: Jennifer Estep
The Gargoyle Queen #1
My rating: 4.2 stars
Romeo and Juliet, a duplicitous prince and a pampered spy princess, with magic.
Princess Gemma is a pampered, selfish, glittery airheaded princess. Or at least, that’s the persona she created to hide her strong magic and secret spy life behind. When she runs into an enemy prince on one of her missions, Gemma is pulled between insinuating herself as a spy among the enemy, the charming duplicitous enemy prince, and the risks she will need to take to survive.
I’ve never read Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, but I imagine the theme here is the same. Two young people from enemy royal families are drawn to each other by their magics, history, and mutual attraction. Yet, they know a future together is impossible. The theme might be cliched, but it made a great story here. The attraction was fiery and compelling, and Gemma and Leo’s respective situations were understandably complicated. I’ll happily take this fun modern version over the archaic Shakespeare any day. (No offense to Shakespeare. The bard’s work can be appreciated when I have the time and patience for it.)
I liked how both Gemma and Leo had their own mythical animal friends, like familiars. I love books with human-animal bonds, and Grimley and Lyra did not disappoint.
If you’ve read the sister series, you’ll be familiar with some background history here. This series is set some 16 years after the first. The characters in here were side characters in the first series, and one can jump in here without reading the other series. There’s enough background info and flashback scenes to bring every reader up to speed. If you have read the other series, you’ll be happy to get to know Leonides, Gemma, Lyra, and Grimley a lot better, in addition to meeting some new friends and old enemies. Most of Estep’s books feel very similar to me. They’re predictable, but still make for a fun journey and a very enjoyable read. If you liked her other books, you’ll enjoy this one too.
Although sixteen years have passed, Gemma still struggles with the trauma she experienced at the massacre. Back then, she hid under the table. Now, she hides behind her pretty princess persona and the necklace that protects her from the strength of her own magic. Spying is just another way of hiding, but when her past mirrors her present and old enemies return, Gemma will need stop hiding and finally face her fears.