by Victoria Aveyard (2016)
Cruel Crown is a short book composed of two short stories set before Red Queen: Queen Song, focusing on Coriane and how she came to her death, and Steel Scars which features Farley and her rise through the ranks. Queen Song was quite short and was written in the third person whereas Steel Scars was longer and written from the viewpoint of Farley.
Coriane is a singer but not exceptional. An inharmonious family and ridiculed by her often absent father, Coriane has a troubled and bleak future ahead of her. But when the intriguing Tiberius enters her life, everything takes a turn down a brighter path; how long that remains depends on the strength of Coriane as Elara threatens to destroy everything Coriane holds dear.
Farley has a strained relationship with her father but it doesn’t stop her ascending through the Scarlet Guard. She meets the audacious Shade and soon discovers his unique ability. But Farley doesn’t stick to orders and goes against her father – will she be able to continue with her mission or will the Scarlet Guard turn their back on Farley?
Queen Song was definitely my favourite with Coriane being such a likeable character whereas I didn’t really care much for Farley and her story at the beginning of Steel Scars, though I did enjoy it more towards the end. It worked with Coriane’s story being told in the third person and I liked the brief account of her life as though it was being told in a memoir. It was over so quickly though! I would have loved to have read more about Coriane and her relationship with Tiberius, and see more of her time in the palace.
Steel Scars was very much a story of war as the Scarlet Guard set missions and relay coded messages to convey information in secret. Farley meets Shade – a character who was only briefly seen in Red Queen and it was great to see more of his ability and what it allows him to do. Together, they are unstoppable as they try to further the cause of the Scarlet Guard and free Reds everywhere from the clutches of Silvers. Though I preferred Coriane’s story, it was still interesting to find out more about this strong soldier and where she came from.
I loved this little Novella and getting the chance to see more of the Red Queen world!