I love a good retelling or adaptation of classic folklore. This series by LJ Andrews is going to be broken into four parts. The first is Beauty and the Beast (books 1-3), the second is Cinderella (books 4-6), the third is Swan Princess (books 7-8), and the last is the Phantom of the Opera (9). This series is finished! The last book does have all four tales collide together for a grand finale. While the series are separate, they occur in the same world and are interconnected. So, you can read the Cinderella books first, but it is recommended that you read them in the order they were published. Particularly since characters are introduced in the first book and their stories build on what happened in the previous ones. The whole series is part Viking, part folklore, with Fae and magic.
I’m going to break my thoughts on the series into each of the sections, and share my overall thoughts on each rather than review each book individually, though I honestly could. I enjoyed this series a lot and can definitely see myself returning to the books again and again. I’ll be updating this post as the books are released.
This series is available on Kindle Unlimited.
I will try not to give too many spoilers for the series as I share my thoughts, but there will be some slight spoilers on at least the first book since I can’t exactly avoid those to discuss the rest of the series.
Overall, the focus is on the four queens: Choice (Elise), Devotion (Malin), Honor (Saga), and Cunning (Calista). While not every story has finished playing out yet, all the characters have been introduced as of Reign of Stars and Fire. Though we do not know where the final male is currently located, since he has only appeared in memories thus far. But we do know his power is fate telling through songs, which plays into the Phantom of the Opera theme that LJ Andrews is going to use for the Western Kingdom.
Beauty and the Beast (Northern Kingdom)
The books in this half of the series are:
- Curse of Shadows and Thorns
- Published: October 1, 2021
- Page Count: 350
- Rating: 4 stars
- Court of Ice and Ash
- Published: November 22, 2021
- Page Count: 324
- Rating: 4 stars
- Crown of Blood and Ruin
- Published: January 31, 2022
- Page Count: 396
- Rating: 4 stars
Elise is the second princess of her kingdom and her uncle decides it’s time she must get married. So, he arranges for Legion Gray to be her dowry negotiator. Initially, I thought he was going to be Gaston but Legion ends up being the Beast. That became evident when his friends were pointing out the fact that he drew blood, he disappeared shortly after that, healed way too fast, and Elise was falling for him as her kingdom is split over violent attacks and a bloody coup. The moment the Night Prince was introduced as a missing heir, I knew that Legion was him but just couldn’t remember his true identity or was hiding it since Legion wasn’t being fully honest about his past (he was hiding something, but it wasn’t that).
Gaston ended up being Jarl, who was one of Elise’s several bidders and I’m glad Legion never ended up arranging for her to marry any of those men. The two of them are great together.
I loved that while it is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, Legion never locks her up instead he’s the one fighting by her side and protecting her during the coup. Even if the two have a complicated history with one another, they complement each other really well. Their banter is great throughout, so there is an enemies-to-lovers undertone to their relationship since they are on opposite sides of the kingdom. Legion is the Night Prince, while Elise is the princess of the bloodline that killed his entire family and took over his family’s land. And while you would think this is the conflict between the two after the coup, it’s not. But as with Beauty and the Beast, it does not stop the two of them. Elise decides to put her feelings of betrayal aside after seeing how he’s affected by the curse and helps Legion/Valen break the curse.
The rest of the series from that point is focused on the two of them trying to restore the kingdom after the coup led by Elise’s sister and Calder (the heir and her sister’s fiancé). The world-building is done really well, it’s spread throughout the books without ever giving a massive information dump. There are some moments at the beginning where you’re learning what certain terms are, but builds as the book goes on without ever feeling overwhelming.
The spice level increases as the series continues, while it’s classified as Young Adult from the third book on in the series it is recommended for readers 17+ due to the spice.
The first book is purely told from the POV of Elise, but the rest switch back and forth between Elise (The Rogue Princess) and Valen (The Night Prince), so you get a clearer image of what’s happening especially as the characters get separated at various times throughout the series.
Cinderella (Eastern Kingdom)
The books in this section of the series are:
- Night of Masks and Knives
- Published: April 26, 2022
- Page Count: 370
- Rating: 4 stars
- Game of Hate and Lies
- Published: June 30, 2022
- Page Count: 363
- Rating: 4 stars
- Dance of Kings and Thieves
- Published: October 20, 2022
- Page Count: 454
- Rating: 4 stars
While this book is technically Cinderella, there are some significant changes. The prince in this tale is not the love interest, and there is no fairy godmother. Malin, who is our Cinderella, wants to rescue her stepbrother, who was taken on the night of his release from prison by the Black Palace, the same place that took her love interest (Kase). However, Kase has been free of that place for several turns and now goes by the name The Nightrender. She ends up going to his guild for help rescuing her stepbrother and ultimately learns a few things. One of her stepbrothers has family from another kingdom. The other is that Kase is the Nightrender and has been avoiding her since his escape, though he’s been around her for the last year under disguise.
With the help of Kase’s guild, they work towards getting into the Black Palace, so they can rescue Malin’s stepbrother (Hagen). It involves going through a lot of mini-heists to get everything in place for the main event. Not only that but there’s dealmaking happening throughout Kase, pulling strings to ensure things work out for everyone. We also get to see some characters from the Beauty and the Beast section of the series reappear and play various roles in this section (the two guilds from the East that helped Elise and Valen in their war). All while these heists are happening, Kase is trying to push Malin away so she can’t be hurt due to a relationship with him (but failing at it), while Malin is trying to get past his defenses since she’s been in love with him for years.
She does have one mean stepbrother and a stepfather who make her work, but they don’t play a major role immediately. Later, they take more of an active role in the story, helping Malin in her quest. They also didn’t steal Malin’s inheritance, as she came from a poor widowed mother, who died shortly after she was taken in by her step-family. And instead of there being a glass shoe made for Malin by a fairy godmother, there is a glass ring that is kept at the Black Palace, which is kept for the fated Queen of the Eastern Kingdom. Considering this is a Cinderella retelling, I knew immediately at the mention of that ring it would fit Malin. The only question was: how did it end up getting placed on her finger? As I couldn’t see why Malin would place it on her finger knowing that anyone that attempts it gets killed, and there’s no way Kase wants her anywhere near the Black Palace or that ring. He made that clear multiple times during his POV.
You don’t have to read the previous books to read this one. There is new worldbuilding as we’re in a different kingdom with a different set of rules. The magic works differently here. While everything in the first kingdom was earth- or element-based, this kingdom’s magic is physiological (body and emotions). As I mentioned, there are some overlaps in characters, but you don’t need their backstory from the previous books to understand their motives and characters. Though it is nice.
The book switches back and forth between the POVs of Malin (The Memory Thief) and Kase (The Nightrender). While they aren’t separated for the majority of the first book, it helps with understanding their motives and their character development. After the first book, the two are separated for a while in the second, so having the two POVs is helpful. And in the third book, they each have their own marks during the war, so having both sides helps understand the steps that are happening.
I won’t spoil how this adventure plays out for the second fated queen, but it does set up the next section in the series. Ari is forced to take Saga in as a servant for 100 years after she sided with the Queen of the South rather than the Prince. Given that it’s based on The Swan Princess, I’m guessing the raven that has been following Ari throughout the third book is Saga. Especially after receiving a fate message instructing him to follow the raven to mend a broken crown and heart. I’m curious if the next book will happen before or after Eryka and Gunnar take vows in the Southern kingdom.
Swan Princess (Southern Kingdom)
The books in this section of the series are:
- Den of Blades and Briars
- Published: February 21, 2023
- Page Count: 430
- Rating: 4 stars
- Reign of Stars and Fire
- Published: June 30, 2023
- Page Count: 444 pages
- Rating: 4 stars
I recall seeing the Swan Princess when I was growing up, but the plot is fuzzy to me compared to the other tales this series is based on. But from what I do remember, this does follow it for the most part. As with the other sections, I won’t share spoilers on the specifics of what happens. Only how it connects to the tale it’s retelling (aka the Swan Princess). Though I’m going to leave out some names as they are massive twists that play out.
Saga is cursed to turn into a raven against her will (every other night) by a tyrant. And she keeps this a secret, as it’s tied to what her brother (Riot) did to protect her. He cursed her heart to be stone, so she did not feel anything and ensured that the royal line that took over would keep her in their service. Nor could she remember what happens, though when she overhears a mention of her history, she starts to get uncomfortable and panics. Riot also banished the individual that once abused her, similar to how Rothbart was in the Swan Princess.
In the previous series, Saga was forced to serve Ari for the next century. Ari is the Northern Ambassador, who has been involved in every war for the Kingdoms up until this point. He’s reluctant to trust Saga since he sees her as a traitor though she had no choice in the matter. As it turns out, this is in part to break the curse over Saga (as orchestrated by her previous lover). The two have to make a vow of everlasting love, thus requiring them to wed with the two rings Riot left for Saga. Once doing so, the two reveal all their secrets to each other and realize they truly are in love with each other. And have been for some time, but neither admitting it to each other or themselves due to their traumatic pasts (and Saga dealing with feeling again for the first time in centuries). However, this is not the end of their journey, they must retrieve a blood feather in order to fully restore Saga’s power. But while doing so, Ari is cursed, similar to how Odette was killed in the Swan Princess.
While love was enough to break her curse in the Swan Princess, it doesn’t seem to be enough in this tale. As Saga gives her heart fully to Ari, but it’s not enough to reverse the effects. So, they put him in a deep sleep so the curse is paused for the time being. However, Ari isn’t missing for the majority of the next book. While Saga is trying to find a cure for Ari with the help of Nik (a thief from the East who has been involved in every story), Ari is on a memory walk trying to discover secrets from the past and dealing with his belief that everyone around him is cursed to die. So, a lot of what Ari experiences is the past before Saga was cursed by her brother in an attempt to save the kingdoms.
I would highly recommend reading the other two sections before reading this one. Ari played a massive role in the first section and Saga is introduced in the last book of the second section. While you don’t truly need to read that one to understand what happens, it gives context to everything especially since this section starts out regarding the lead-up to Eryka and Gunnar taking vows as their story has been told in the background of the previous sections. And all the other characters make appearances as they are so closely connected. Meaning, they help play a role in the war for the Southern kingdom even if they have to be on the sidelines for this one for the most part due to the enemy’s abilities to steal powers. And they need to preserve the fate powers or the entire world will collapse.
The world itself in this section is different, or rather we have a new Kingdom to explore that we’ve had mentions of in the previous books. For starters, the magic here is called Glamour and each court has its own type of magic. Saga belongs to both the Court of Blood (shapeshifting) and the Court of Serpents (earth-based). The Fae of the Southern Kingdoms don’t all have the same appearance. Some have tails, wings, tufted ears, or various other features that hint at their abilities. The Kingdom is also made up of different courts with a High Court ruling over them all, but each likes to play games of power differently. So, the customs in each court vary. The same can be said of their loyalties.
Similar to the previous books, this section switches between the POVs of Saga (Raven Queen) and Ari (Golden King).
I do wish they had gotten three books like the other couples (Valen/Elise and Kase/Malin), but it makes sense why they didn’t. Their main foe is the final enemy of the series that’s been behind literally everything as they were gaining power. So, giving them that conclusion would’ve left the final section (final book) with no enemy. Granted, there’s a ten year time jump between when Saga and Ari’s tale ends and Calista’s begins.
We are given an epilogue to show that passage of time with all the couples having children at this point. And that Calista still has not figured out how she’s Riot’s daughter (Saga’s niece) when she recalls growing up recently. Considering her curse was to live and live again, I think she kept being reborn and died early due to her fate telling abilities. So, her vivid dreams of the prior storytellers were her previous lives. She just hasn’t figured that out. And considering how many times she’s lived, it makes since why she’s so cunning.
Phantom of the Opera (Western Kingdom)
There is only one book in this section: Song of Sorrows and Fate, which came out on August 30, 2023. While the Western Kingdom is involved, the book does not take place only there as the other sections did. Instead, after the opening sequence of all hell breaking loose in the other kingdoms, we join Calista in the Western Kingdom where she is reunited with Silas.
Calista discovers that she has lived several lives because Silas was secluded in what remained of House Ode to be the anchor, allowing her to live and live again. He felt her die each time, and this, combined with his seclusion, has led to him somewhat losing his mind, but despite this, he remains devoted to Calista. She does struggle to accept the truth, but ultimately accepts the bond she has with Silas before the two head to the other kingdoms to help them win the Great War against Davorin.
Davorin is utilizing the sea fae as his army due to their resentment over the former Ever King’s death. Erik may be the new king at this time, but his uncle is still in power because the boy is only around fifteen years old. Of course, it’s not as simple as a battle between the earth fae and the sea fae. Rather, each kingdom must relive the curse that they once endured. So they must contend with a curse of blood (Valen’s curse), a sea seeking vengeance, and a plague of darkness.
I won’t go into details because it’s the epic end to the series, but they only survive their battle by utilizing Calista and Silas’s abilities.
I wasn’t too worried about most of the characters reaching the end as I read Song of Sorrows and Fate after reading The Ever King, so I knew who made it out alive (which is pretty much everyone we care about). And I knew a few details going into the book on what would happen, but not the details surrounding them as they were vaguely described in The Ever King. But I don’t think that really spoiled anything for me.
Overall, I thought it was a great conclusion to the series and would give it 4 stars like the rest of the books in the series.
As for how Song of Sorrows and Fate was Phantom of the Opera inspired. Silas communicates with Calista through song that only she can hear. His song helps her with rewrite fate, since their powers are bonded. Also, Silas has a mask he wears over part of his face after he was disfigured by Davorin when he was a child, and leaves her roses. And he technically kidnaps her for a brief period of time so she couldn’t run away from her fate.
If you’ve read this series, what did you think of it? Also, which retellings of classic fairy tales or Vikings-inspired books are your favorite to read?
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