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Crush the King by Jennifer Estep // VBC Review

Crush the King (Crown of Shards #3)
Jennifer Estep
Published: March 17, 2020 (Harper Voyager)
Purchase at: Amazon or Bookshop
Review Source: Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by: Amy

Rating (out of 5): 3.5 stars

Note: While this review will be spoiler free, it will reference previous events in the series. If you haven’t yet started, check out VBC’s review of Kill the Queen.

Having survived a massacre
and various and plenty assassination attempts in her short time as Queen of
Bellona, Everleigh Blair is finally ready to take the fight to her aggressor,
the King of Morta.

The annual Regalia Games
provides the perfect opportunity for Evie to confront the King face to face on,
somewhat, neutral territory. She won’t be able to let her guard down just yet,
but if we are sure of anything it’s that Evie knows how to play the long game.

The premise for Crush the King is pretty much the
culmination of everything Evie has been fighting for this entire series. The
endgame of the book is pretty straight-forward from the onset, however I felt
like it gets bogged down with a lot of extras—including but not limited to a dance
off, card game, and tournament—that presented interesting ideas, but ultimately
took away from this main idea of the story.

Headlining this is the newly
introduced DiLucris family. A self-made family, their isle estate is where the
Regalia Games are held in order to give an appearance of neutrality. Their
geldjagers are also behind one of the recent assassination attempts on Evie. So
from the onset they’re linked to the opposition, but we never understand their
motivation or how their assumed alliance came to be. It’s one of the more
disappointing storyline drops because I thought it presented such an
interesting avenue to explore but ended up going nowhere. At least, for now.

Per Jennifer Estep’s website,
she has plans to continue writing in her Crown
of Shards
world albeit from a different character’s perspective. If that is
indeed that case, I’m hoping a few of these dropped story threads will be
picked up again. But it still doesn’t negate the idea that they probably shouldn’t
have been added at all. Instead working to enhance ideas that have already been
started such as Evie continuing to learn new depths to her powers.

Or the relationships that have been established over the course of these three books could have been strengthened even further. It’s a quibble I have also had with Estep’s Elemental Assassin series in that once a relationship has been established—whether it’s familial, friendship, or romantic—there’s little done to actually cultivate these relationships and the characters who are on the receiving end typically get pushed further into the background. Here, the main offended would have to be Sullivan. Maybe it’s the fact that I loved Protect the Prince so much in how his character was portrayed and grew. I’ve loved his and Evie’s banter and back and forth, but as soon as their romance is in place, any merit or characterization he has in his own right is out the window and he becomes little more than just a decoration. Completely underutilized.

It’s difficult to be so critical
of Crush the King as I still found it
to be a fast-paced, engaging read. I loved the moments we see Evie so
clearly comfortable with her powers. The ending is satisfying and I love the
idea of getting more stories in this world, but I think when put up against
where this series started and progressed in the first two books, this third
just fell a bit short for me.

Sexual content: Sex

Was I correct?
You can thank me later.