The Demon Queen Trials is a three-book series written by author team C. N. Crawford and available on Kindle Unlimited. Written in a world where Demons exist and once lived among human mortals, the main character, Rowan Morganstern, is a human who is struggling to find justice for her late mother.
In a twist of fate, she finds herself imprisoned in the dungeons of the City of Thorns, mistaken for a fugitive succubus named Mortana by Orion, an incubus demon who has vowed to kill Mortana as revenge for her past evils. The three-book series follows Rowan and Orion as they both seek justice for their loved ones and establish themselves as the rightful rulers of the City of Thorns.
I’ll stop there as I ALWAYS over-explain the plot when I love a book. I’m going to attempt to review all three books without writing 1500 pages of character descriptions.
I found The Demon Queen Trials series when I subscribed to Kindle Unlimited. I read and listen to books every single day, so paying $10 a month for access to the huge library of books by upcoming and independent authors in addition to magazine access and other bestselling authors is well worth it for me.
If you think it may be worth it for you, check it out here. I’ve read over 130 Kindle Unlimited books in the year since I subscribed, as many books available are shorter reads. If Kindle Unlimited isn’t for you – no worries! The book series costs $3.99 or $4.99 per e-book and is well worth that price. I read all three books over a period of a few months.
Book One: City of Thorns
The first book does a good amount of character and world building. Crawford is good at this. One of my favorite parts of this series is the setting. The premise of the book is that when America was a colony, the Puritans fought a war against the demon world, and won. The Puritans used magic to bind the demons to the City of Thorns, magically trapped inside with nowhere to go.
The City of Thorns existed prior to the Puritan/Demon war, but they could come and go as they pleased. Set in the present, modern day Osborne (Osborne sounds a lot like Colonial Philadelphia or Boston) exists near the City of Thorns. Yes, there is cell service in the demon city.
Demon hunters abound in Osborne, and politicians use Demons as fodder for campaigns that promise tough border enforcement. Rowan Morgenstern is a psychology student in Osborne and it’s her 22nd birthday. She finds herself mixed up with a beautiful incubus named Orion, who takes her prisoner and plans to kill her. He pledged a blood oath to Ashur, his late brother, to kill Mortana for killing his entire family. He was left, forgotten, in a dungeon for centuries.
Rowan looks just like Mortana, and the only way she can convince Orion that she is human is to offer him a taste of her blood. He drinks her blood and discovers that she really is a human. Mortana was a succubus who turned on her people to save herself. Orion has been hunting her for years.
Rowan has wanted to enter the City of Thorns for many years, hoping to find the demon that murdered her mother. They hatch a plan – she will pretend to be Mortana the succubus to fool their enemies and hope to draw them out. Incubi and succubi feed off of lust, so Orion is seductive and makes for some steamy moments, although this book is not heavy on smut.
Orion leads Rowan to Mortana’s ancestral home, long abandoned. Rowan is shocked to find a portrait of her mother hanging on the wall. Exploring the home brings the truth to light – Rowan’s mother was an aristocratic demon and her father was heir to the throne. Her magical powers were locked away by her parents to hide her identity and keep her alive. When Orion finds out, they fight.
This book is very young adult-y, but in the best way. The world building is well above average, the characters and dialogue are full of life. Rowan is strong, smart, and funny. Orion has experienced deep trauma and is pretty damaged. Rowan’s psychology degree and strong personality are good for him.
Read this book if you enjoy young adult novels, fantasy, paranormal, and alternative history books. If you have Kindle Unlimited, this is a good book to give a try if you’re looking for a quick, fast read full of suspense.
Book Two: Lord of Embers
In Book Two, Rowan has left the City of Thorns and is hiding back in Osborne. She is hiding from the Orion, who has taken a blood oath to kill her, believing that because she has demon blood after all that she is somehow Mortana.
She is immediately accosted by demon hunters, one of them being a blowhard congressman. She kills him in self-defense, and then runs to the City of Thorns to avoid law enforcement. She is wounded in the fight.
She escapes to her family’s estate to heal, and there finds the information she needs to overthrow the current King and ascend to the throne. She offers the information to Orion in exchange for his promise to reverse the blood oath. To do that, they have to go to Hell, which has been modeled after the Puritan colonies of the 1600s. Here they go on an epic quest, both relying on each other and betraying each other at every turn. They find what they need, and they escape back to the City of Thorns. They both want to challenge the King, and the book ends on a cliffhanger.
The second book is pretty short, almost like a novella. The setting of Hell is clever – the Puritans who died and went to hell live there, and they are as pious and evil as they were during the days of witch hunters. I liked it almost as much as I liked the incubus/succubus lust magic scenes.
Wow! I really did keep this one short! I had to leave out so much.
Book Three: Garden of Serpents
Rowan is back in the City of Thorns, once again. This time, it’s not her choice. Orion has exiled her from the city. She has to go back and fight before Orion takes his revenge on the mortal world. This book is the end of the story, and it is a very good book three.
And that’s all I’m going to say. If you’ve made it this far, you’re going to read the books anyway. I deserve a “like” and a share for not over-explaining, don’t I?