The first part of the tragedy is the sad context of Queen Coriane Jaco’s death. The second part of the tragedy is the writing for these two short stories.
Cruel Crown is the publication containing two back stories for Red Queen (see my review for that here) and I think I have to rate each story separately because what they bring to the table is very different.
The first story, Queen Song, is about Coriane, Tiberius the Sixth’s first wife and Cal’s mother. We slowly watch her go mad from the pressure and while Corianne is the point of view character, this story is really about the future queen, Elara, the tormentor. We get to see just how driven Elara is through her interactions with the soft and gentle Coriane. Elara is Coriane’s mental illness, that inner force that it’s hard to battle against.
Elara is ruthless in her pursuits and when re-reading Red Queen with this context we begin to have new suspicions and questions. How much is Elara the puppet-master and how many people are her puppets? Overall, this short story serves as a window of understanding into the differences between Maven’s upbringing and Cal’s. Through Elara’s calculating cruelty we begin to understand just how far this family will go for power.
I give it a 4/5 on my Young Adult scale.
Side characters: 4/5 (all points earned by Elara)
World development: 2/5
Writing quality: 4/5
The second story, Steel Scars, is the story about Diane Farley and is completely the opposite of Queen Song.
This story is unnecessarily long and excessively slow. All we learn here is some of how the Scarlet Guard operates and that Farley has a problem with authority, both of these things do little to advance Red Queen and could easily be emphasized in book 2 (Glass Sword).
Victoria Aveyard tries to be creative by including the actual transmissions between characters in a very odd format. But those formatting choices are both confusing and distracting. They provide nothing new.
The only redeeming quality of this books is that we learn a bit about Mare’s favorite brother Shade. But, in this story he is a bit of a let down. His magic power is cool but he lacks the pizazz you would expect from a favorite big brother. I want more for him and from him.
I give this a 2.5/5 on the Young Adult scale.
Main character: 3/5
Side characters: 3/5
World development: 4/5
Writing quality: 3/5
Procrastination and Giggles,
The Red Queen
P.S. Now that I’ve red Glass Sword, Steel Scars seems even more unnecessary and Queen Song even more potent.