Review Detail

Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0

A Debut Fantasy Win

An exceptional middle-fantasy debut, keyed to a New Adult audience.

Kelsea is an unremarkable orphaned girl, long kept hidden in nearly complete isolation. And she is about to ascend to a throne she never asked for. The kingdom her mother left her is in shambles. Her people are pinned under the thumb of a particularly vile neighboring kingdom, who they’ve long been forced to pay tribute to in the form of live slaves culled via lottery. Her immediate desire is to end this practice, but the cost to her—and her people—may be higher than any of them can pay. And there are magical forces at work that are far beyond her understanding…

We have here a solidly constructed story with competent execution, meted out via well-honed and effective prose. While this isn’t the sort of pretty writing that prompts one to pause and write down quotes, it does facilitate steady, unhindered pacing. Johansen’s emotional conveyance is visceral and her descriptions are evocative. The story itself reminds me of the YA book Graceling, but with more worldbuilding depth and a protagonist I was able to find far more endearing.

Character growth-wise, there’s plenty to be had in Kelsea. She isn’t ignorant or incompetent, but inexperienced, uncertain, and ill-equipped. All the attempted preparation for her taking on a leadership role is clearly not enough, considering what she faces. (I particularly enjoyed seeing the young queen reassess her own educationally ingrained biases when confronted with the reality that was previously only a concept.) You have to feel for her. Kelsea has inherited a dumpster fire of a kingdom, fraught with decadence and corruption. But despite poor self-esteem, and the low expectations most seem to have of her, she possesses a determination to far exceed her mother’s impotent reign.

Bottom line? This new young queen is far out of her depth. But she’s quick to adapt, and isn’t without some intensely interesting allies…

I will certainly be reading on in the series!

Was this review helpful to you? 

Comments

 
 
Ordering 
 
Already have an account? or Create an account
 
 
 
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

You/Poet: Learn the Art. Speak Your Truth. Share Your Voice.
Offering a variety of advice for tapping into your creative...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Are You Scared, Darth Vader?
Darth Vader isn't scared! Nothing can scare Lord Vader. ...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Star-Touched Stories
From New York Times bestselling author, Roshani Chokshi, comes Star-Touched...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
91HIpyhaW9L.jpg
The third book in the New York Times bestselling series...
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
One Week of You
For Lizzy Winston, one week will change everything. Fifteen-year-old...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Legacy (The Biodome Chronicles #1)
She is from the past, locked inside a world...
 
4.0
 
4.6 (3)
Grenade
It's 1945, and the world is in the grip...
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
The Lines We Cross
Michael likes to hang out with his friends and...
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Uncharted
Seventeen-year-old Annabeth prefers the fantasy of her books and...
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
Dark Divide
Secrets have a way of coming out. Divided by...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Orphaned (Ape Quartet #4)
Before humans, and before human history, there were the...
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
Heirs of the Round Table: Reclaiming Camelot
Imagine discovering that your ancestors were part of King Arthur's...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Wicked Nix
A visually stunning, middle-grade classic in the making about Wicked...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Journey of the Pale Bear
A runaway boy befriends a polar bear that’s being transported...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Camp Valor (Camp Valor #1)
When Wyatt gets framed for a friend’s crime, he thinks...
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
The Attack of the Plants: A Branches Book (The Magic School Bus Rides Again)
Next stop...The Magic School Bus heads to the Galapagos to...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)

Latest Member Reviews

Knock Knock
 
4.5
"'Knock Knock' by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Guy Francis, is a cute picture book about a bear getting prepared for..."
No, David!
 
5.0
"In NO, DAVID, David is always being corrected. Whether it's for tracking in mud or playing baseball in the house,..."
Yellow Submarine
 
4.0
"Twice upon a time, once in 1968 and once today, there was an unearthly paradise called Pepperland. In an elaboration..."
A Tree for Emmy
 
5.0
"Emmy likes all trees, but loves the mimosa tree the best. The reason is because her Gramma says they're just..."
Lord Garmadon, Evil Dad (The LEGO Ninjago Movie: Storybook)
 
3.0
"Ideal for beginning readers and avid young fans of the LEGO Ninjago Movie. Lord Gamadon is about as..."
Lion vs. Rabbit
 
4.0
"Lion is not very nice. He bullies the other animals, and they're all afraid to stand up to him. In..."
The Word Collector
 
5.0
"Jerome's hobby is words. He collects them. He classifies them. He loves them. One day, Jerome's collection is scattered, and..."
The Digger and the Flower
 
4.5
"'The Digger and the Flower' by Joseph Kuefler shows the power of goodness when everything else seems to be overtaking..."
Superbat
 
5.0
"Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's a bat in a costume! Pat the bat is a..."
Plant the Tiny Seed
 
4.5
" This book relies on the interactive nature of read-alouds for young children. Beginning with a single zinnia seed, the..."
Blue vs. Yellow
 
5.0
"'Blue vs. Yellow' by Tom Sullivan focused on the creative ways in which those two colors can be used, along..."
Big and Little Are Best Friends
 
4.5
"Big and Little, an elephant and a mouse, are best friends. But their friendship isn't based on common interests. Big..."
Confiscated!
 
4.5
"'Confiscated' by Suzanne Kaufman tells the story of two dinosaur brothers who each want the same toys. When their mother..."
Flowers for Sarajevo
 
5.0
"Haunting and hopeful. The bombing one of the last working bakeries in the city of Sarajevo might have been..."
Plankton Is Pushy
 
4.0
"A quick and comical read, rife with sarcasm. A particular plankton is used to eliciting a response from every..."
Dill & Bizzy: Opposite Day
 
4.5
"'Dill & Bizzy Opposite Day' by Nora Ericson, illustrated by Lisa Ericson, is an adorable story about two best friends..."
Zebra on the Go
 
5.0
"ZEBRA ON THE GO was an overall well put together book. The rhyming had me hanging on each line. The..."
The Story of the Easter Bunny
 
4.0
"THE STORY OF THE EASTER BUNNY is a story I've never heard before. It tells about how the Easter Bunny..."
Shark Dog!
 
4.0
"SHARK DOG! is half-dog, half-shark, and 100 percent the main girl's friend. The main girl, whose name isn't mentioned,..."
The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors
 
4.5
"'The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors,' written by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Adam Rex, is an enjoyable play on..."