Of Cages and Crowns

Wattpad. Nov. 2022. 432p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781990259029.
Gr 8 Up–The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor in this debut fantasy novel. Every generation, 10 goddess-touched girls must compete to the death in the Culling for a chance to become queen and marry the crowned prince. Monroe Benson, a white Erydian, was born goddess-touched with the ability to control fire. Afraid to die a pointless death in the arena, Monroe does everything she can to escape the Culling. But when she is forced to participate, she begins to fall in love with Prince Cohen—a kind prince who promises a brighter future for Erydia than his mother, the evil queen. The unique premise is fascinating, and the first two parts of the book are captivating, but the last part diverges into an all-too-familiar plot of politics, rebellion, and betrayal. The character development is exceptional, as each character is complex and surprising. Readers are likely to question how believable the main characters’ choices are at the end of the book, but nevertheless, will be rooting for them and eager to read the next installment.
VERDICT Although the pacing is slow at first, the intriguing plot, complex characters, and brilliant writing make this a page-turner to the very end.

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