Rise of the Vicious Princess by C.J. Redwine
I get a big kick out of reading books not specifically for my demographic. Actually, let me rephrase that. I enjoy reading books that I assume are not written for my demographic. I’m a guy, so stories about princesses are off the table. Perhaps you’re a girl and that John Wick in Space book is not supposed to be your cup of tea. I beg to differ, and love to step outside my comfort zone and read material that is not necessarily written with me in mind. It was under that assumption that I picked up Rise of the Vicious Princess by C.J. Redwine.
The story follows Charis Willowthorn (pronounced Kaw-Ris), the teenage princess of the Fantasy Medieval-ish realm called Calera. Calera is a fairly prosperous country that shares a war-torn continent with a few other kingdoms. They have fancy balls filled with courtesans and fancy folk of one kind or another. Court politics and the various machinations it takes to keep your allegiances strong and your nobles happy are a constant area of concern for Caleran Royalty. Princess Charis is front and center to all of this because she is the heir to the throne.
Charis gets her skills put to the test in a night of violence that ends with the queen being bed-ridden. The kingdom Montevallo is said to be behind the attacks. Charis has to step up and lean on her mother’s training. She must be cold, calculating, and vicious in order to protect her family and her kingdom.
There’s a lot to do about bows and dresses in the opening chapters of Rise of the Vicious Princess. Charis’s thoughts and behavior are often in conflict with her mother’s training. She’s torn between being an often unfeeling and ruthless leader and the desire to be a normal teenager. This predicament is nothing new and has been told thousands of times in stories about princesses. However, when the bodies start dropping, things get interesting. Rise of the Vicious Princess very quickly goes from a girly courtesan snoozer to a gripping whodunit.
I gained a lot of respect for the main character as the story progressed. She comes across as a deeply conflicted person, but has an incredible inner strength that allows her to survive and even thrive in the world she lives in. It’s nice to see a teenage character who feels duty-bound, and then actually sticks with it. The sacrifices her position requires are quite heavy and the author does an excellent job bringing the reader into Charis’ perspective.
Redwine’s writing is smart, and I often found myself enjoying the verbal battles as much as the actual battles, and there are plenty of both. The author does a great job of showing that winning a fight is not always about violence. Watching the princess use her training to maneuver politics was often actually fun.
The story is a bit of a slow burn, with a few twists along the way to keep you interested. However, it ends with an amazing sequence of events that leave you wanting more. I really don’t have any complaints and I look forward to the sequel.
I read Rise of the Vicious Princess both in print and in audiobook format. The audiobook is performed by Lauren Ezzo. Lauren has a unique cadence to her voice, and it took some getting used to at first. She turned out to be a great choice for this book, and I enjoyed her performance a lot. I was enjoying the book enough that I actually purchased the audiobook so I could consume it faster. I’m very glad I did.
This sounds fun!