cover image The Ring and the Crown

The Ring and the Crown

Melissa de la Cruz. Hyperion, $17.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-4231-5742-7

De la Cruz (Frozen) launches a series set in the late 1920s of an alternate Earth where magic is real and the Franco-British Empire holds dominion over much of the world. While Princess Marie-Victoria faces imminent betrothal to Prussian Kronprinz Leopold, her childhood friend Aelwyn has returned from Avalon to take up a position as a court magician. American socialite Ronan Astor plans to use the season to land a wealthy, noble husband to revitalize her family's finances, and French noble Isabelle hopes to steal her lover Leopold away from his future wife. Romance, intrigue, betrayal, and magic are interwoven in this complex and somewhat overwrought drama, which also plays out in secret love affairs, hidden identities, and desperate conniving. The magic-dominated society de la Cruz creates has a certain faded charm%E2%80%94part Gatsby, part Downton Abbey%E2%80%94but the ending suffers from pacing problems, with several developments and resolutions taking place offstage or in exposition. Likewise, the use of sex as a tool and a weapon lends an unsettling undercurrent to the story. Ages 14%E2%80%93up. Agent: Richard Abate, 3 Arts Entertainment. (Apr.)