Wow. It's been a while since the last time I read YA fantasy, and I'd almost forgotten why I love this genre so much! The Demon King certainly had its flaws, but it was so riveting and bewitching that I lost the X-Factor final last night in order to finish it and I suspect I'm going to spend the following days lost in this series, with coffee and ice-cream as my sole companions! Burn you social life!
And by fun, I mean books.
“Han always seemed to find trouble, no matter how hard he tried to avoid it.”
Han Alister is a former streetlord who tries to follow the right path and feed his family. But his life changes dramatically when he gets in his hands an ancient serpent pendant that seems to wield powerful and forbidden magic associated with a war that happened a thousand years ago and almost destroyed the world. Hunted by the Queen's Guard for crimes he didn't commit and always on the run, he can't possibly imagine that perhaps the fate of the royal line and the queendom is in his hands.
“The succession, the bloody succession. Well, if you ask me, the lineage of queens is like a chain around my neck.”
Raisa ana'Marianna is the princess heir of the Fells, and her royal duties almost choke her. She can feel that something bad will happen, that the wizards' influence on the queen is suspicious and she can't trust anyone but herself and her loyal friend and guard, Amon Byrne. She wants to do more that dance in fancy balls and nod her head while others make decisions for her queendom, she wants to prove that she is a worthy heir to the Gray Wolf bloodline. But war is coming and she doesn't know who's the enemy, so she follows her gut and tries her best for her people, before it is too late. Before the wizards gain the upper hand once more.
“History. Why do we need to know what happened before we were born?'
'So hopefully we get smarter and don't make the same mistakes again.”
I am officially mezmerized. It is true that it took me some chapters to adjust to the worldbuilding and get a grip on the story and the characters, but after a while I was absorbed in this intricate and fascinating world of adventures, intrigue and magic. I won't pretend I didn't notice the similarities between The Demon King and Falling Kingdoms, especially regarding the characters of Raisa and Cleo and their love interests, but Cinda Williams Chima's writing style is original and her storytelling skills mark her as a great YA fantasy author! I loved the way she entwined Han and Raisa's stories, adding interesting and important secondary characters and the events that happened hundreds of years ago, with the war between the wizards and the Demon King and the part queen Hanalea and the clans played. The magic is divided between clans and wizards, and they distrust each other, but they made a pact and bound themselves to the Vale queens and the good of the queendom. Until recently.
As you can tell, there was suspense and mystery and secrets waiting to come to light, there were so many things the protagonists didn't know (and frankly, some of them were pretty obvious and I kept wondering how could they not see them). The The Demon King's ambience was hypnotizing and vigorous at the same time, and you felt like it cast a spell on you and you couldn't put it down until you were allowed to. The main characters were also alluring, they came from completely different backrounds and had different life goals, but both Raisa and Han were stubborn and resourceful and anything but meek. While I loved Raisa, I have one complaint; why did she keep wanting to kiss every boy in her radius? It was ok at first, but then it became ridiculous!!
But don't judge her because of that, except her love life she was pretty mature and likeable! The weird thing is, I don't have a ship yet. There were flings but nothing meaningful and I was all in for the intriguing story and not the romance! That doesn't happen often! Please guys, do yourself a favor and read this book!
Well done, Cinda Williams Chima, well done!