Series Name: Of Cages and Crowns, # 1

Review By Veronica

Of Cages and Crowns is the perfect book for fans who love the Hunger Games and The Selection series.

Favourite Quote:

The silver edges of the ticket glinted in the low light as it skidded away on the breeze. I leaned forward, onto my hands and knees, reaching for it, but stopped as a boot came down, pinning the paper to the pavement.

I didn’t have to look, didn’t have to follow the line of those dark-blue robes to know who it was. Without a word, she bent down and felt around the hem of her dress until her fingers found my ticket.

For a moment, the videra crouched there at eye level with me. Those empty black eyes pressed into me like a physical force. She saw what no one else did.

Her lips twitched into the smallest pleased smile before she said, “Ah there you are.”

Goodreads Synopsis: 

For goddess-touched girls, there is only one destiny: the Culling

From the moment Monroe Benson is born with a mark on her hand and the ability to summon fire from her fingertips, her life will never be her own. She’s goddess-touched, which means she’s destined to participate in the Culling, an age-old competition to determine the next queen of Erydia. For most of her seventeen years, her family has managed to keep Monroe–and her powers–hidden. But now, as Queen Viera calls for the Culling to start, and war looms on the horizon, Monroe can no longer hide. She must face her destiny whether she wants to or not.

For the ten goddess-touched girls, all with different powers, the inevitably of this fight to the death has always ruled their lives. The tradition is both barbaric and cruel, but to make matters worse–Monroe isn’t prepared. She hasn’t trained her whole life for this day. She doesn’t want to be in the spotlight. She doesn’t want the crown.

While Monroe struggles with her fate, a rebellion is brewing in the castle and in the country. A group called the Culled are banding together; their goal–to topple the monarchy. And the more they rise, the more merciless Viera is with her kingdom, recruiting younger and younger people from poorer and poorer places to fight in a war no one wants to be waging.

When Monroe finds herself on the front lines of the rebellion’s inner circle, only one thing stands in her way: Cohen. The queen’s son and the man who will be king. The pair grows close, yet Cohen’s dedication to duty, to family, to tradition stands in stark contrast to the boy Monroe sees at night in the kitchens, secretly making the two of them a snack.

As the fight crescendos around them, and the death of innocents is a force to bear, the choices Monroe makes will reverberate through the kingdom . . . and her heart forever.

This book was really well written! Brianna did a masterful job creating a story and world lush with detail and depth. This is the first book in the Of Cages and Crowns series, and I cannot wait until the next book is published. The ending leaves you wanting to know what will happen next. At the beginning of the book, Brianna does a wonderful job of introducing her readers to the world that Monroe lives in. She goes over what is currently happening, its political climate, and conflicts arising, and also talks about its history. She gives her readers these details while still moving the story along at a perfect pace. I never felt like I was being inundated with information, nor did I ever feel lost or lacking details to help me understand what was going on. For me, an author’s ability to introduce their world to readers cohesively and interestingly often makes or breaks a fantasy book. Brianna doesn’t have anything to worry about; she aces this part. Everything is well-balanced, and as the story progresses, she ensures that her readers have everything they need to understand and enjoy her story. 

The story follows Monroe (our main heroine), living in Varos’s poverty-stricken territory. She has been hiding because she is one of the goddess-touched girls. Her family doesn’t want her to take part in the Culling because there is a chance that she will die during the tournament. However, Monroe is captured trying to flee the country and sent to the capital to participate in the Culling. While staying at the royal palace, Monroe is forced to wade through a hostile political environment, trying to figure out who is a friend or foe while trying to stay alive. What I loved about this book is that it takes everything I enjoyed from the Hunger Games and The Selection series and combines them to make this epic story with the added bonus of characters having these really cool powers. I thought adding this “supernatural” abilities element to the story was genius. It makes the story more entertaining and allows it to explore different creative avenues. Monroe can control fire, which I really enjoyed, and it was symbolic because she is the spark that will destroy the tyrannical government. 

The pacing of this story is typical for the first book in a fantasy series. Things start a bit slow while the author lays the foundation for what will happen later in the series. Near the middle of the book, things start to pick up, and as the story progresses, the pace quickens even more. This means the second half of this book flies by, and before you even know it you have finished it. This book has just the right amount of action, political intrigue, mystery, and romance. There was always something to capture my attention. I loved the character interactions, the dialogue between them was clever, and it was nice watching Monroe form different bonds with various characters. There are characters that you are going to love, and there are characters you are going to love to hate. I always say it’s a sign that the book you read is great when the characters draw out different emotions from you. I was laughing at Uri’s antics, and my heart went out to Britta and Nadia, who both were in difficult situations, and I hated Viera and Larkin with a burning passion. I do love a devious and cunning villain.  

I like Monroe. She is one of those more relatable heroines. She doesn’t go into this tournament with a honed set of skills that would give her any advantage to win. She is brave at times, but that bravery only seems to come out when she is stubborn. In truth, she is terrified and wants nothing to do with the Culling or becoming queen. Monroe repeatedly states that she would make a terrible queen because she has no qualities that would make her a smart ruler. I enjoyed watching Monroe struggle with what was happening around her (not in a sadistic way). It made her more human and real. Not only is she struggling to master her powers, but there is also this moral struggle because to survive, she has to kill nine other girls. Her character grows in this book, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. 

Of Cages and Crowns is an epic dystopian fantasy read that will hook you in and leave you wanting to know what will happen next. 

Thank you, wattpad books, for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.