Crown of Crimson by Rose ReidCrown of Crimson by Rose Reid
Series: The Afterlight Chronicles #1
Published by Rose Reid on January 8th 2016
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 418

First Rule of the Cannon: Trust no one.

Aerietta Elony is destined for evil.
Born into a royal family, it was quickly discovered that she bore the Jezdah mark — an intricate tattoo meant to identify the Children of the Elements. To make sure his people never knew about the danger that hid in their midst, the king had his daughter sent to the leader of the Cannon, his order of assassins, where she would learn to become one of them.
No one was ever supposed to know what Aerietta was, where she came from, or what she was destined to become. She’s never worried what would happen if someone discovered her secrets. But when a neighboring kingdom attacks, and Aerietta is betrayed and captured, keeping her secret will mean the difference between life and death.
When the king of the neighboring land enlists her services to track down one of her traitor companions, she has no choice but to accept. But in order to find her former friend and make it back to the king with her head still attached to her shoulders, she’ll have to keep the enigmatic, inhuman Swordmaster in the dark, which proves to be more difficult than she could ever imagine.
Deception abounds, danger is just as prevalent, but even in this world of demons and magic, the only thing Aerietta fears is herself.
The Queen of Crimson accepts.

4 Stars

An enthralling, fast-paced debut with a feisty heroine harbouring a dangerous secret!

If you enjoyed Throne of Glass but waited desperately for Caelena to finally slit some throats, then Crown of Crimson may be what you’re looking for.

4 reasons why this debut should not escape your attention

✭ Now, you all know I love my heroines feisty and foul-mouthed with a side of kickass and a little darkness in their hearts. Well, Aerietta meets all of these expectations. Born to the king of Lydovier, Aerietta was discarded due to the Jezdah (a mark of magic) on her back, believed to be dead, and trained to be an assassin, instead. And she has quite the reputation. She’s proficient in any form of combat, even with her bare hands.

On my first assignment, he [Quay, her master] gave me no weapons to fight with. When I’d asked why, he’d told me I was a weapon, and I should know by now how to wield myself.

Aerietta is cunning, bold and will never go down without a fight – and she’s also a tease.

But before I bound down the next corridor, I untie the string around my neck and pull my blood red cloak off, hanging it on the wall. Let the Evrallonic soldiers see it and know who they almost captured. Let them realize that they almost had the Queen of Crimson in their hands, but she slipped through their fingers like blood.
You will always remember this as the day you almost captured Captain Jack Sparrow

The night Evrallon attacks the kingdom of Lydovier, a betrayal leaves Aerietta in the hands of an enemy king and – trust me – Aerietta is not someone you want to stab in the back. Because she’ll come out swinging from below. There is no good-hearted mercy from her when it comes to betrayal.

Cicero’s eyes are wide with astonishment and torment while he stares at his fallen brother as if he can’t believe what he’s seeing. When he finally looks up, I see rage in his eyes.
I point my sword at him. “You’re next.”

Aerietta is ruthless, yes, but she’s easy to root for. Throughout the book, she adapts, she learns, and she shows noticeable character development.

✭ As Aerietta is captured, enter Lyom Livingstone, Swordmaster to the Cruel King and Evrallon’s Blight who is someone of equal fierceness. I daresay he reminded me a bit of the Darkling. He’s handsome, mysterious, and often so annoyed by Aerietta’s quick-witted retorts that he can hardly stand being in a room with her. His facial expressions range from ‘stone-faced’ to ‘pure loathing’. And he, like Aerietta, has his own little dirty secrets. His crew, the supporting characters (especially kind-hearted Jamas), immediately had my sympathy and my interest.

✭ What happens when you clash Aerietta’s temper with Lyom’s? Sparks everywhere. This is no insta-love. This is hatred transforming to annoyance turning into acceptance leading to affection. It’s slow-burn at its best, and these two have undeniable chemistry! Another ship to add to my fleet! Can I put in a request for lots of Aerietta/Lyom scenes in the sequel, Rose?

The plot was a fast-paced rollercoaster. From the very beginning, swords are wielded, narrow escapes are made, and a quest begins. The storyline follows Aerietta on a hunt across kingdoms and never left me wishing for more.

Why did I not give this 5 stars?
The world-building was tentative and not structured enough for a fantasy. The book read like there were randomly inserted kingdoms at the plot’s convenience. And without a map to orientate myself, I was completely lost in this realm. And albeit the writing being good, for a debut anyway, there were too many redundant sentences, which made the inner monologue somewhat repetitive. I think some of Aerietta’s thoughts could have been shortened and bundled together to make the writing more compact. These issues, however, are minor and, though I did substract a star, they do in no way compromise the quality of the book.

Crown of Crimson was a gripping, fast-paced, and enjoyable fantasy debut. And to all you worthless, haphazard assassins out there, please take notes here: Aerietta is an assassin who actually kills people. Loads of people. Like, I stopped counting at some point. And judging from the cliffhanger, she was only about to get started.