Book Review: The Crown’s Secret by Kelly Blanchard and Matthew Dale

When a favourite author puts out a book, it is pretty much guaranteed that I’ll read it as soon as I can. When a favourite author co-authors a book in the same world as the original series, causes shenanigans and then promises the sequel in a few months? Yeah, well, I’m a goner. Thanks to The Crown’s Secret by Kelly Blanchard and Matthew Dale for the latest rabbit hole. It was a grand time!

1. Thoughts on the plot

This book takes place some several decades before The Chronicles of Lorrek, the first series by Kelly Blanchard. It follows Ensula, Crown Princess of Ceraleo, who is returning home after ten years in Cuskelom with an agenda. She wants to find out, once and for all, who killed her father and brother ten years ago. And she wants to know what her mother is hiding in her all-too-pleasant letters from home. She’s returning to a battlefield between her mother and the country’s mages, but she is more prepared than you think. Enter also Adrik, the Lord Inquisitor and attack dog for the Crown. He has a particularly dark brand of magic that lets him kill with relative ease. But when Ensula returns, his world is turned on its head and he has to protect her not only from outside threats, but from himself.

The plot of this first book is less intricate than I had originally expected from Kelly and Matthew. The Chronicle of Lorrek books were like reading a 3D chess game: many pieces intertwining and working towards a goal that was, at the beginning, undecipherable. This book was no less interesting, but read more like a standard chess game, with a very definitive goal in mind and players taking a certain stance. That is not to say that this book is boring or predictable at all. It was not. It was a well paced plot with all the elements I wanted to have an interesting book.

2. Thoughts on the characters

As always, I had a great time with these characters. Ensula was strong, but yielding enough to know when to hold her tongue. I think many of her plans were a bit hasty in their initial stages; however, she was walking into a situation relatively blind, so I cannot fault her for working on the go. Adrik is definitely one of my favourites. He has this wounded intensity about him that puts him in a perfect category for protector and potentially super dangerous teddy bear. Absolutely fun to read. 

I would have liked to see more from the secondary characters, Recalina, Sirros, and the others, but I have a feeling book two and onwards will answer any questions I may have about the other characters. 

3. Favourite part

I shall try to state this without spoilers. But the bit with Adrik and the particular secret he protects was just about the best thing in this book. It really raised the stakes and made the situation so much more intense and desperate. Also, it was very sweet. 

4. Critique

The ending. It was just a tad abrupt, with character conflicts coming to a a head without a massive amount of arguing or discussion. The situation with Risema just sort of happened, as if she was simply waiting for someone to prod her into action, rather than yelling at everyone as she’d done for a good portion of the book. It worked out, and it made perfect sense, but I would have liked to have seen a touch more. 

Of course, the bonus scene fixed this entire situation, so one should take this critique with a grain of salt.

Overall, I would say that The Crown’s Secret is a great first book in a new series. The world is, as always, fun to explore. The characters were wonderful. And now I want the next book, please! A very good book.