Backlist Bonus: The Hero and the Crown

1124884by Robin McKinley
YA Fantasy
5 of 5 stars

I discovered this book when I was 13, and it shaped my childhood. I’ve read it quite literally at least twenty times! As one of the building blocks of my reading and writing world, it’s impossible for me to give an unbiased review, but as with Sabriel, I refer to it often enough that I had to have something here.

Robin McKinley’s motto is writing about “girls who do things” and after reading the majority of her novels, this one about Aerin the dragon-slayer has my favorite female protagonist. She has all the typical aspects of her dead mother (rumored to be a witch), being more comfortable around books than people, and slowly discovering her magical destiny. It also has subtle romance, mischievous humor, and the anthropomorphic animal characters that McKinley is famous for. I have yet to encounter many stories with girls slaying dragons and saving the prince, and that’s a huge reason this novel is so close to my heart.

Aerin’s journey has two parts–accepting herself, then saving the kingdom that rejected her, and the double arc is part of what kept me returning again and again. Her transformation from the an awkward, shy teenager to a brave, selfless warrior has gradual depth. McKinley’s writing is beautiful and the story of a girl in a boy’s role was more unusual then. Still, I think every lover of YA fantasy should check it out!

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, The Hero and the Crown is available on Goodreads and its parent company Amazon. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!

Similar reads:

  • Fire by Kristin Cashore – Another heroine finding and fighting her destiny, with a similar world, pacing, and tone.
  • Sabriel by Garth Nix – My other favorite story of all time about a girl trying to save her father from the Dead spirits in the Old Kingdom, but there is a greater evil is stirring that she must expel from the land. See my review here.
  • Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas – Celaena the assassin contends with the evil lurking in the king’s castle as she comes to grips with the fact that she’s meant to be more than a killer. See my review here.
  • In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce – The kingdom’s first lady knight has a lot to learn about life and an evil sorcerer to defeat. See my review here.
  • Seraphina by Rachel Hartman – A girl with unusual talent for music gets drawn into royal politics as tensions rise between the humans and dragons living in Goredd. She has to hide her own secrets during a murder investigation that brings her close to the prince. This is a thoughtful YA novel that explores individual identity. See my review here.
  • I am Morgan le Fay by Nancy Springer – A first-person narrative about the Arthurian legend’s female villain and what drove her to seek revenge.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

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