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), and the second is Cinderella (books 4-6). The other two have yet to come, but by the end, all four tales will 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 to read them in the order they were published. 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, and Cunning. The latter two are for the next two kingdoms, likely in that order. They will be Swan Princess for the Southern Kingdom (Ari and Saga) and Phantom of the Opera for the Western Kingdom (Calista and Riot). I’m so excited for a book with Ari and seeing more of Calista. Both of those characters were from the Northern Kingdom, so it will be nice to see them again. I’m just not associating Calista or Saga with Honnor or Cunning because I could be wrong on which one they belong to. Though Calista definitely fits cunning based on her actions in the first three books.
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 half of the series are (note this half of the series is not over yet, there is one more book to come):
- 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 step-brother who was taken on the night of his release from prison by the Black Palace, the same place that took her love interest (Kase). Only it turns out Kase has been free of that place for several turns and now goes by the title of The Nightrender. She ends up going to his guild for help rescuing her stepbrother and ultimately learns a few things. One, her stepbrother has a family from another kingdom. Two, Kase is the Nightrender and has been avoiding her since his escape, though he’s been around her for the last year under a 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 world-building as we’re in a different kingdom with a different set of rules. The magic works differently here. While in the first kingdom everything was earth/element based, this kingdom has magic based on 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 POVs from 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 separate 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 as a servant for 100 years, after she sided with the Queen of the South rather than the Prince. Considering it’s going to be based on the Swan Princess, my guess is the raven that has been following Ari the entire third book was Saga. Especially when he got a fate message saying 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.
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?
Join the Howl of the Pack today by subscribing! To stay updated on everything I’m doing, follow me on Twitter as that’s where I post quick updates. Or join our Discord server. Also, if you like this post, let me know in the comment section, it really helps me figure out what content you guys appreciate. Don’t be shy I would love to hear from you!