Title: The Ring and the Crown
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Melissa de la Cruz is a prolific New York Times Best-Selling author. If you are a fan of YA novels with supernatural elements, historical settings, and drama, I highly recommend you check her out.
As you can tell, here I will be discussing her novel The Ring and the Crown. This is the first book I have ever read by her, but I was so hooked by the first few pages that I knew I would have to write a review about it. This book was lent to me by a close friend, and by the end of it I was ready to hug her and throw the book at her all at the same time.
Here is the back cover description from the extended edition that I read:
“Once, they were inseparable, just two little girls playing games in a formidable castle. Now Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the mightiest empire in the world, and Aelwyn Myrddyn, a bastard mage, face vastly different futures.
As the annual London season begins – a whirlwind of wealth and magic marked by lavish parties and gorgeous girls vying for the attention of young royals – the talk of the town is Ronan Astor, a social-climbing American with only her beauty to recommend her. After falling for a handsome rogue on the voyage over, she must balance her desire for love with her duty to save her family’s position.
Meanwhile, Isabelle of Orleans finds herself cast aside by Leopold, heir to the Prussian crown, in favor of a political marriage to Marie-Victoria. Isabelle is bent on reclaiming what is hers, but Marie doesn’t even want Leopold – she lost her heart long ago to a boy she will never be able to have.
Desperate to escape a life without love, Marie turns to Aelwyn, and the girls form a perilous plan that endangers the fate of the monarchy.”
You get the gist of the story from that synopsis – princesses, magic, love turmoil. But there is so much more to it than that. You see behind the scenes of a ruling monarchy through the eyes of these teenagers who are born into their positions and who at some point have to decide if this is truly what they want for their lives. Ultimately, it’s a coming-of-age novel about learning what freedom and responsibility really mean. It’s about conquering the lot you’ve been dealt in life and taking control and sometimes putting others before yourself.
Each individual character’s story line is woven together as they make it to the “London season” which is basically a series of balls and parties where the royal families try to marry their children off. Unless you’re Aelwyn, a mage who is returning after being banished years ago. She is returning for her magical duties and to reunite with her best friend.
The fashion, the parties, the class wars, and the political drama are all delivered in this novel in an engaging and exciting way. De la Cruz manages to make you care about each character’s plight while weaving a scandalous plot that can be described as nothing less than an emotional roller coaster. But if you’re a fan of happy endings, tread lightly with this novel. De la Cruz delivers closure for all of the characters, but it just might not be in the way you hope for.
If you’re looking for a scandal of the highest order with princesses and magic, let this be your next reading journey.