The Hero and the Crown (YA)

by Robin McKinley

Aerin is the king’s daughter, but her mother was a mysterious “witchwoman” of the North, and her father’s people will not let her forget it. When her father’s kingdom is under attack and the last of the great dragons has awoken, can Aerin rise to the challenge and save the kingdom that doesn’t want her?

I didn’t love this book when I read it as a kid (despite adoring nearly all of McKinley’s other books), and I didn’t love it this time around either. If you love The Blue Sword (which I do), it’s worth reading because it gives a lot of depth and background to that story. And I loved several of the characters. But to me most of the second half feels like a disconnected digression from the story as set up in the beginning. The villain who’s supposed to be responsible for all the evil events is introduced way too late with too little lead-up for me to care about their confrontation or its result, which feels unsatisfying and confused. There were too many things that just kind of happened without a reasonable explanation, and Aerin only succeeded by her own skill/ability/wit about half the time.

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