Book Review: Of Cages and Crowns by Brianna Joy Crump

About the Book:

Title: Of Cages and Crowns

Author: Brianna Joy Crump

Series: The Culled Crown #1

Page Length: 432

Publication Date: Nov. 22, 2022

Publisher: Wattpad Books

Synopsis: For goddess-touched girls, there is only one destiny: the Culling

From the moment Monroe Benson is born with a mark on her hand and the ability to summon fire from her fingertips, her life will never be her own. She’s goddess-touched, which means she’s destined to participate in the Culling, an age-old competition to determine the next queen of Erydia. For most of her seventeen years, her family has managed to keep Monroe–and her powers–hidden. But now, as Queen Viera calls for the Culling to start, and war looms on the horizon, Monroe can no longer hide. She must face her destiny whether she wants to or not.

For the ten goddess-touched girls, all with different powers, the inevitably of this fight to the death has always ruled their lives. The tradition is both barbaric and cruel, but to make matters worse–Monroe isn’t prepared. She hasn’t trained her whole life for this day. She doesn’t want to be in the spotlight. She doesn’t want the crown.

While Monroe struggles with her fate, a rebellion is brewing in the castle and in the country. A group called the Culled are banding together; their goal–to topple the monarchy. And the more they rise, the more merciless Viera is with her kingdom, recruiting younger and younger people from poorer and poorer places to fight in a war no one wants to be waging.

When Monroe finds herself on the front lines of the rebellion’s inner circle, only one thing stands in her way: Cohen. The queen’s son and the man who will be king. The pair grows close, yet Cohen’s dedication to duty, to family, to tradition stands in stark contrast to the boy Monroe sees at night in the kitchens, secretly making the two of them a snack.

As the fight crescendos around them, and the death of innocents is a force to bear, the choices Monroe makes will reverberate through the kingdom . . . and her heart forever.

LINKS:   Goodreads   |    Amazon   |  Book Depository

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, including Amazon, and I may earn a small commission, at no cost to you, if you purchase through my links.

My Review:

I wanted to read Of Cages and Crowns since I saw it compared to The Hunger Games and The Selection. The Hunger Games is one of my all-time favorite books, and I was intrigued by this unique-sounding dystopia. This book is so good!! I loved the world-building, the storyline, and the romance. There’s so much action and political intrigue, and it’s a pretty intense read. I can see why others have compared it to The Hunger Games and The Selection. The stories revolve around deadly competitions and take place in horrific dystopian societies where people are under surveillance, and extreme measures are used as a means of control. Of Cages and Crowns is similar, but it still feels unique and new.

In a world where some girls are goddess marked and gifted with a unique ability lives Monroe, a goddess-marked girl who can summon fire. Monroe has been hidden for her entire life to avoid being forced into the deadly culling, but when she is caught trying to flee, the unwilling Monroe is forced to compete against other girls in the culling. The culling ends when only one girl remains, and with her life and the throne on the line, Monroe must train to compete. Monroe doesn’t want the crown, and she becomes entrenched in a rebellion against the throne. But as she grows closer to the prince, she must make difficult choices that will change her world.

Monroe has all of the great qualities of a dystopian protagonist. She is smart, strong, and brave, and she is a survivor. She defies people’s expectations, and her power is incredible. She’s a well-rounded character, and I like that we get to see her flaws and weaknesses, as well as her more vulnerable side. Throughout the story, Monroe makes friends in unexpected places, and the more she gets to know them, the more she begins to question her loyalties, principles, and more. It’s interesting to see her change once she isn’t hidden away and is more informed and knowledgeable about society, the royal family, the history of the kingdom, and the culling. She goes from being a scared and reclusive girl who didn’t embrace her gift to a brave and powerful young woman with a strong voice and an even stronger ability.

I love Cohen too. He’s so different from what I expected, and I love his relationship with his sister Uri. She’s another great character. Love her! Her enthusiasm and fun personality are infectious, and it is a refreshing contrast to the dark and deadly threats around them. Monroe’s relationship with her brother, though mostly at the start of the novel is as strong as the one between Cohen and Uri, and there are some interesting themes about the lengths people are willing to go to to protect those they love.

Of course, my favorite relationship in the story is the romance. Monroe and Cohen have some great enemies-to-lovers and America/Maxon vibes going on, and I was totally here for it! Between the love story, the friendships, the intense plot, the magic, the world-building, and character development, I found it difficult to put the book down. It’s exciting and unpredictable with many twists and turns and heart-pounding intensity. The story is gory and suspenseful and filled with lies, betrayal, sinister plots, and that ending left me speechless! I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!

Special thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.



Favorite Parts:

  • The romance.
  • The intrigue.

Favorite Lines:

I knew I’d trade every ounce of power in my blood to be allowed to stay, or go, or just exist without always feeling at odds with the world around me.

I was going to die before ever having had the chance to live and now that I was faced with my mortality, I wanted more than my fair share. I wanted a lifetime of love, small smiles, and card games; friendship and laughter and kisses…all the tiny things that make your life feel full when you are old and grey and lying on your deathbed. My heart was flung wide open, ready for any small ounce of life.


Of Cages and Crowns is a great read for people who enjoy YA fantasy, fantasy-romance, or dystopian fantasy.

8 thoughts on “Book Review: Of Cages and Crowns by Brianna Joy Crump

Leave a Reply