Kill the Queen started off with a bang. Evie, a twenty-eight year old without magic (or so you think) is the only survivor of a royal massacre by the truly hateful Vasilia, first in line for the throne and determined to plunge her queendom into war. Evie only survives due to immunity, a special ability that makes her immune to the full effects of magic. She finds safety with a troupe of gladiators, led by the former Captain of the Queen's Guard, and finds friendship and belonging where she had never found it before in her previous life.
This book reads more like YA, since it's written in first person, and Evie's inner dialogue feels a bit young for her age. I wasn't too put off by it, since it makes sense that Evie, having been raised essentially isolated, might be a bit behind in her development. The writing was fluid and fast paced, with little room to breathe. The descriptions weren't too flowery, although I wish the fight scenes had been more descriptive, especially the gladiator duels. Still, I found myself devouring this book in three or four sittings.
The magic wasn't too unique - elemental magic isn't new. But I did like that Evie, along with her immunity, only had a superior sense of smell. It allows her character to be unique in a setting where magic gives you power. Her smell allows her to read into people's emotions, which was fascinating. She keeps her immunity hidden - a secret that saves her life, yes, but also allows her to skirt the system, stay in the shadows, and eventually, succeed in her mission.
Yes, she really does need to kill the Queen and save her country from the brink of war. The plot was fun, and I was cheering Evie on as she learned to fight like a gladiator, and think differently about herself and her role in society. Her character development was entirely satisfactory as she grows into courage and self-worth.
3.5/5 stars on this one. It was a bit too YA for my particular taste, although enjoyable enough that I kept with it. The fight scenes could have been tighter, and there were throwaway scenes that didn't do much to advance the plot. But all in all, I enjoyed it and will most likely pick up the second book in the series.