Once upon a time, there was a princess who wasn’t exactly in love with a prince, but was close to marrying age and had to soon choose a husband. Not so far away from the castle lived a man, although hardly one. The man was an ex-gang leader, but he had changed his ways and was trying to provide for his mother and sister the legal way. They may have lived completely separate lives, but they both have a story to tell in The Demon King.
Alright, I know what you’re thinking: this probably can’t sound any cheesier, right? As much as I love Cinda Williams Chima, even I will admit that talking about this book makes it sound cheesy. I personally am not a big fan of cliché stories with princesses forced into marriage, but this is by far the best, most un-cheesy story I have ever read about a princess.
The first few chapters of The Demon King belong to Han, nicknamed Cuffs for the mysterious silver cuffs that have been around his wrists since he can remember and that are impossible to remove. Han is a sixteen-year-old living in two worlds. Half his time is spent away from the city, living in a clan, a village of families outside the main city, with his friend Dancer, but he never feels as though he quite belongs with them. At the same time, life in the city is hard. His mother made him quit The Raggers, his old gang where he was streetlord, and now he must provide for his family by actually working. Life without his gang is hard, and Han struggles to provide food for his mother and sister.
But then Han and Dancer have a bit of an altercation with a teenage wizard, Micah, and they end up walking away with his amulet, something all wizards use to control their magic. Only Micah shouldn’t have his amulet until he turns sixteen in several months, and it seems like something isn’t quite right with it.
Meanwhile, Princess Raisa, heir to the Gray Wolf Throne, must soon choose a husband. And it seems that every man in the queendom (and beyond, including a pirate!) wants to marry her. But the only guys (that’s right, guys—plural) Raisa feels anything for are the ones she knows she can never marry. First there’s Micah Bayer, the high wizard’s son. According to ancient law, wizards and royalty are forbidden from marrying. The law was set in place after the rise of The Demon King, a wizard who once fell in love with a queen and then tried to take over the entire queendom. But Raisa can’t help it, and her flirty relationship with Micah is definitely bordering on illegal. On top of that, her old friend Amon has just come back from school and is looking much better than the thirteen-year old she remembers. But Amon is also off limits—as the son of the Captain of the Queen’s guard, and maybe the future Captain himself, he knows his duty is to protect the Princess and only to protect her. So now it seems that Raisa must choose between her heart and her queendom.
At first, I was a little afraid to open The Demon King. I’ve always been a big fan of Chima’s first series, The Heir Chronicles, and to be honest, I was slightly scared about this one. As I said, the story sounds a tad cheesy at first, and this series is written for a slightly younger audience. But once I opened it, I was amazed. The Demon King certainly isn’t cheesy or too young for anyone—nor is it a let-down after Chima’s first series.
If anything, this book just bumped Chima higher on my favorite author list. She’s painted an amazing world, created realistic, beautiful characters, and scored me a crappy grade on an Algebra test because I was up the entire night before reading. This story definitely deserves the four out of five stars I’m giving it. I’ve already recommended The Demon King to half of my school, and I’ll tell you the same thing I told them: Go buy it.
Frankie, or “thefrankie,” has been called weird but thinks original is a much better word. She’s fifteen, and (obviously) a writer. She’s been telling stories since she was three, writing since she first learned to, and wanting to be an author since Kindergarten. Her other hobbies are running, playing handbells, singing loudly off-key, taking pictures of exploded fruits (exploded watermelons are actually very cool), playing with play-doh, and hanging out on Figment!