cover image Tear Down the Throne

Tear Down the Throne

Jennifer Estep. Harper Voyager, $16.99 trade paper (464p) ISBN 978-0-06-302309-3

Estep’s fast-paced sequel to Capture the Crown dives deeper into the world of her Gargoyle Queen series. Princess Gemma Ripley of Andvari is still reeling from her deadly confrontation with the Morricones, the ruling family of Andvari’s rival, Morta, when Queen Maeven Morricone sets up another scheme, this time at the royal Summit in Caldwell Castle. There, Maeven interrupts the festivities to invoke the traditional Ungerian custom of the Gauntlet, forcing her son Leonidas into a marriage with Gemma. But Leonidas must first complete three challenges; if Gemma refuses to comply or Leonidas fails, their lives are forfeit. Trapped by Maeven’s plot and overwhelmed by her inner romantic turmoil, Gemma must find a way to outsmart centuries-old tradition while preserving the diplomatic relations between Andvari’s neighboring kingdoms. As with the previous installment, Estep puts little flesh on the bones of her cast: the characters all sound the same and their dialogue often feels flat. Fortunately, she makes up for this shortcoming with tension-filled battle scenes and a delightfully offbeat magic system. There’s plenty for series fans to look forward to. Agent: Annalise Robey, Jane Rotrosen Agency. (May)