cover image Kill the Queen

Kill the Queen

Jennifer Estep. Harper Voyager, $15.99 trade paper (416p) ISBN 978-0-06-279761-2

In the entertaining first installment of Estep’s epic fantasy series, Lady Everleigh Violet Winter Blair, 17th in line for the throne of Bellona, goes from nondescript pawn to significant player in royal intrigue. When Queen Cordelia’s daughter, Vasilia, viciously slaughters the queen and most of the royal family in a genuinely horrific scene, Everleigh barely escapes, carrying proof of Vasilia’s treachery. Going by Evie, she joins up with the queen’s former personal guard, Serilda Swanson, and her gladiatorial troupe, hoping to enlist her help in taking down Vasilia—but Serilda has her own plans. Although Evie’s time with the troupe does give her some skills, it doesn’t transform her into an unstoppable fighting machine; instead, she relies on her unusual immunity to magic and ability to neutralize it in others, along with an enhanced sense of smell. The worldbuilding feels scant, but Estep (the Elemental Assassin series) knows her way around a fight scene (and a dance scene). There are hints of romance and a refreshing focus on female friendship. Readers will want to see brave Evie stop the cruel warmonger Vasilia, and will look forward to the next chapter in her story. Agent: Annelise Robey, Jane Rotrosen Agency. (Sept.)