Title: The Key
Author: Jennifer Anne Davis
Series: The True Reign
Genre: Medieval-esque, YA, Romance
Pages: 342 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars!
Blurb: (via Goodreads)
Within these pages lie kingdoms with castles and princes who fall in love with fair maidens, but make no mistake−this is no fairytale.
His father’s kingdom is on the brink of upheaval and at the center of it all is an ordinary girl who could be the key to its undoing. When faced with the ultimate choice, will he choose the girl he’s falling in love with or the kingdom he has sworn to protect?
An ordinary girl with an extraordinary past. All she wants is to be free. What she doesn’t realize is that freedom comes with a price she can’t afford to pay. She’s forced to accept the proposal of a prince she despises, even though her heart belongs to someone else . . . his brother.
Seventeen-year-old Rema lives in a brutal kingdom where travel between regions is forbidden, people are starving, and looking at someone the wrong way can mean death. Nineteen-year-old Darmik is the king’s son and Commander of the King’s Army. He spends his days roving the island, doing his father’s bidding and trying to maintain control over the people.
When a chance encounter throws Rema and Darmik together, they share an instantaneous connection, but any sort of relationship between them is strictly forbidden. Darmik’s brother, the Crown Prince, notices Darmik’s interest in Rema and, in a calculated, political move, blackmails her. Faced with an impossible choice, Rema is forced to sacrifice her heart in order to save her family.
As Rema is taken to the palace with the Crown Prince, Darmik confronts the growing rumor that a legitimate blood heir to the throne exists and is trying to overthrow Darmik’s family. In Darmik’s quest to hunt down and kill the threat, he discovers that nothing is as it seems. Locked in the king’s castle, Rema finds herself a key player in a massive power struggle. When Darmik shows up, she’s not sure if she can trust him. The line between friends, enemies, and loyalty becomes blurred. As truths are unlocked, Rema understands that she just might be the key to finding the rightful heir and restoring peace to the kingdom… if she can manage to stay alive long enough.
I was pleasantly surprised with this book. The first book in the series is technically free, and that isn’t always a good thing. However, free is free and the description sounded really interesting so I decided to give it a shot.
There wasn’t a lot that I didn’t like about it, 2 things really, and they were both pretty technical. It is obvious to the reader who Rema is. Given that you read the prologue, the reader knows for a fact that Rema is the secret princess almost right away… we are just waiting for everyone else to figure it out, including herself. Saying that, the first point on my con list is that there were SOO many clues as to who Rema actually was and Darmik is so blind to it. I was getting pretty annoyed. And when he does figure it out, he gets all peeved because he thinks she knows who she is and lied to him and planned this huge scheme all along, which wasn’t the case at all. The second part I had a problem with was the riddle that is given. It was SO vague and it was solved in no time. It wasn’t really that great of a riddle to begin with, which is a major pet peeve of mine when it comes to that type of thing. It definitely could have used some revising.
Now on to my loves! I LOVED the characters. Rema was headstrong and free spirited and wild, but had a fierce sense of loyalty and showed compassion. Important qualities for a princess… even if she doesn’t know she is one. Darmik was also well structured. I liked how dedicated he was to his job, he was actually sentencing executions and trying to defeat the rebels, he wasn’t helping them escape or showing mercy like I expected his character to do. I don’t think I would have liked him so much if he didn’t have that hard, military side to him. He is a man full of flaws and it was perfectly done… even if I didn’t agree with some of the writing choices, I did like how it tied together with his character.
I WAS a little disappointed by the lack of character development. Darmik maybe develops a tiny bit, but everyone else pretty much remains the same. However, I am willing to cut the author some slack because it is the first book in the series and she was pretty busy laying down the plots foundation. Saying that, I am loving the plot! It has definitely been done before, it reminds me a bit of Sarah Maas’ Throne of Glass (which you can read my review about HERE). Secret princess, tyrant king, love triangle between the prince and the commander of the army. Very similar, even though I would be hesitant to call whats between Rema, Darmik and the prince a ‘love triangle’ seeing as there is an obvious love interest… or at least there is for this first book. I would be interested to see if that changes in the next two novels.
Overall, it was pretty well done. The writing was engaging, the plot is pretty good, I don’t always agree with the artistic choices the author made, but I don’t necessarily disagree with them either… some things were done differently than I would have imagined but the same outcome came out of it. I would definitely recommend this book to my medieval lovers out there, and those who are fond of the whole secret princess aspect. I can’t wait to read book 2!