Crown and Serpent: A Fate of Eyrinthia Novella by Heather Frost
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Seventeen-year-old Iris Winn loves her quiet life with her father, studying the poisons that fascinate them both. But after his sudden death, Iris is now the ward of her estranged aunt and uncle. In order to claim her inheritance, she must live in the capital city of Lenzen for one year. While there, she must attend parties, balls, and participate in every other vapid thing the elite of Ryden value. Iris doesn’t care about learning their rules or joining their ranks–her only goal is to endure the next year. Then she meets Prince Henri Kaelin.
Everything they demanded . . .
Every young woman in Lenzen wants Henri–except for Iris. Unfortunately, the prince only has eyes for her. The king has decreed that Henri must choose a bride before his birthday, and Iris is determined it won’t be her. Dodging a prince’s focused attention while placating her relatives and the rest of Ryden’s high society is exhausting–and more dangerous than Iris could have ever imagined. She is about to learn that not all games are innocent, and some smiles are more lethal than poison. Luckily, Iris is a quick study, and this is a game she is determined to win.
She would take it all.
*Crown & Serpent is a Fate of Eyrinthia prequel novella that’s actually the length of a novel. This villain origin story was released after Royal Rebel, but it can be read at any point in the series.*
My thoughts: Iris and Henri, the couple that is easy to hate. In the "Fate of Eyrinthia" series I have wondered how two despicable people get together and raise their sons.
All my questions were answered and more. The problem was that I didn't hate them in the novella. I came to understand who they were and why they made the decisions they did. I actually sympathized with Iris in most of the novella. I actually felt sorry for her. It was actually easy to see her path to the amazingly evil person she would become. But, she didn't start out that way. She started as a young woman who loved her father and spent time with him studying poisons.
Henri was just a prince who hated his father and wanted the throne. Together, they bounced ideas around that would define their rule during the series.
If you love the series, you want, no need, to read this one. It explains so much!
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. (I've also pre-ordered a copy!)
Iris was tracking the movements of the soldiers who surrounded the king. After his speech, he’d ducked his head and spoken to his son in low, quick tones. Iris had a hard time looking away from Prince Henri. She was still reeling with the knowledge that he was the boy from the stable.
Henri’s expression was inscrutable as his father spoke to him, and Iris noted that he said little to the king. Was it a lecture, then? Iris had become quite familiar with them since meeting her relatives.
Finally, the king finished. He stepped back, and his guards were quick to surround him as he moved off the stage, clearly headed for the nearest vendor’s cart.
Henri stood there a moment, his guards at his back. Iris saw the way his fists clenched at his sides, but then his tension slowly released. He faced the crowd, his eyes sweeping the square—until he found her.
Iris’s skin tingled in a peculiar way as their gazes locked.
Slowly, his lips curved. It was a secretive smile, speaking to what they’d shared earlier. Her knees trembled slightly, though she had no idea why.
“Fates,” Anora breathed. “He’s looking right at you, Iris.”
Her aunt’s words snapped her back to reality. She looked away from Prince Henri, settling her attention on her relatives. Even Kell was gawking at her.
“Why is he looking at you?” Lillin asked, her eyes wide.
“I don’t know,” Iris said. And she honestly didn’t. She didn’t know why he looked so fascinated as he stared at her. She certainly didn’t understand why he was sharing a smile with her, or why he hadn’t told her the truth in the stable.
“Have you met before?” Anora asked, sounding a little strangled.
Before Iris could reply, her aunt’s eyes widened on a spot beyond her. “Fates, he’s coming this way.”
Iris’s belly knotted. She twisted to see that her aunt was right—Henri was already off the stage and moving right for them.
“Stay calm,” Anora breathed to them all. “Kell, Lillin—not a word.”
Henri’s smile was full by the time he stopped in front of them, two guards flanking him. Everyone in the vicinity bowed, and Iris, Anora, and Lillin dipped into practiced curtsies.
Iris could feel many eyes on them, though Henri’s focus on her was especially tangible and unrelenting. “Lady Iris,” he greeted smoothly. “It’s lovely to see you again.”
She glanced up at him as she rose from her curtsy. “Indeed,” she said. It was all she could think to say. Her mind was utterly stalled.
The corner of his mouth twitched higher. “You seem a little less verbose than when we last spoke.”
The skin around Iris’s eyes tightened. “I probably said quite enough already, don’t you think?”
Anora paled. Lillin looked positively scandalized. Kell stiffened, and Sevlin shifted to stand just a little closer to Iris.
“Your Highness,” her uncle said. “I didn’t realize you knew my niece.”
Henri regarded Sevlin, and in the absence of his stare, Iris’s breathing evened out somewhat. “Our acquaintance is quite new, Lord Winn. We only met today.” Henri’s attention shifted back to Iris, and his smile widened. “To answer your question, Iris, no—I don’t think you said enough. I’m fascinated to learn more of your views on the world, though I’m afraid I have several obligations today that will keep me quite busy. Will you be at Lord Thatcher’s ball?”
Lillin’s mouth dropped open.
Anora’s eyes couldn’t possibly get any wider.
Iris knew she couldn’t count on them for help. She cleared her throat and focused back on the prince. “Yes, I will be in attendance.”
Henri grinned. “Excellent. I hope you’ll save your first dance for me.” He tipped his head, and without another word he strode away.
The Winn family watched him go, none of them saying a word.
It was Kell who finally broke the silence. “What by all the blasted fates was that?”
Though they all looked at her, Iris had no answers.
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