by Nicai de Guzman

THE STORY

Attempted murder, that’s how sixteen-year-old Princess Charlotte’s engagement starts. It seems like the only thing she has in common with Prince Young of Vires is their mutual discontent.

When her kingdom’s attacked, Charlotte’s parents renegotiate her hand in marriage to a handsome stranger with a sinister plan. With the people Charlotte loves dying around her, and her kingdom’s future at stake, the only person she can turn to is the prince she betrayed. But, should she save her kingdom or her heart?

One must fall. Get a copy: Amazon / Read reviews: Goodreads

WHAT I LIKED

The racial diversity of the novel is #woke. Princess Charlotte is described as having brown skin and biracial. Prince Young and his brother Prince Minseo are Asian. There was this exchange of Prince Young and Prince Emmett in the forest which I particularly liked:

“Just look at you.” He [Prince Emmett, a Caucasian] grinned. “And more importantly, look at me.”

I [Prince Young] blinked in disbelief.

“Fair skin, eyes the color of beryl stone, golden locks.”

I huffed. “So, I imagine in your world that’s superior somehow?”

“In every world that’s superior.”

If there’s anything that one can take away from the book, it is this. Prince Young’s refusal to submit to Prince Emmett’s way of thinking is a statement. He is saying that this toxic white supremacy is outdated and should not be tolerated.

For a book supposedly set in medieval times, this is pretty forward-thinking… but in a good way. It may mean that the book is not so realistic in the way of traditional medieval-set romances but what the hell, it’s a fictional book and not an academic paper. Anything that advances the cause of equality should be welcomed.

Another likable thing about this novel is that when you think things were settling down and turning into a usual, sappy romance novel, something happens. Another twist here, another twist there. By ¾ of the book, I was worrying that the book is inching towards a happy ending despite having so many issues left hanging, but those were mostly resolved towards a tragic yet gripping end.

HOWEVER

The writing can be improved in the exposition. The setting, the kingdoms, the characters could have been explained better. First person POV through the eyes of different characters were used so we’re mostly privy to their thoughts. However, the author should have found a way to properly introduce the kingdoms in the first quarter—or first half of the story, at least. Towards the end, I was still learning some of the character’s names and some new kingdoms were still being introduced, which may confuse some readers.

Spoiler alert! Highlight succeeding text to read.

There was also a hint in the story about the Arthurian legend and it was only explained in the end how this was connected to it. It’s a twist that some readers may like but others may find it too unrealistic or too far-fetched. First, even if the story is set in imaginary medieval kingdoms, it’s a general rule of fantasy that some rules have to be set. Second, the baby of Charlotte and Young turn out to be Morgana, the antagonist in the Arthurian legend. Morgana, however, has always been believed to have Celtic and Irish origins and in none of the legends does it state that she has Asian features. So while this twist may appear witty, it has to be consistent with the general knowledge of people about Arthurian legend. Maybe the author wants to reintroduce the legend but as a story that starts out as something truly original, alluding to a well-established story only diminishes its goal.

tl;dr

Kingdom Cold by Brittni Chenelle is far from being a light read. Its twists and turns are well thought-out and if you don’t mind some historical and fictional inaccuracies, then this book will make a good romance read. Just don’t expect a traditional, fairy tale ending. ☁️


Kingdom Cold comes out this February 14.  The reviewer received an ARC from the author in exchange for honest thoughts. Excerpts and quotes may not reflect final version. Read our Review Policy here.
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