My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Thank you, HarperCollins, for giving me an e-galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I had descended from selfish, ambitious blood. And I was Norah Kavanagh’s vengeance. I would redeem myself.
The Queen’s Rising saved me from another frustrating reading slump. I already had high expectations because of the positive reviews written by reliable people on Goodreads, and I am happy to say that this book deserves all of the hype. In fact, it was satisfying enough that it could function as a standalone.
The Queen’s Rising is like a fantastical version of Divergent, in that its first half focuses on how a teenage girl struggles to belong to one of the five factions a.k.a. “passions”. After failing to be succeed in the domains of art, music, dramatics, wit, Brienna is desperate to be a passion of knowledge. Like Tris, Brienna seems incapable of belonging to merely one faction. Before she realizes her true place in the world, she is whisked away to a different kingdom where she is implored to help defeat an infamous tyrant. Filled with lots of girl power and political intrigue, this book will captivate many fans of YA fantasy.
It was easy for me to like The Queen’s Rising because it was reminiscent of The Queen of the Tearling, which is one of my favorite books. Its female protagonists were also empowered, and the magic system included a pendant that everyone wanted to use, hide, or destroy. I admit that the latter similarities made me quite jaded. However, for the most part, it enriched my understanding of the world and characters. It would be unreasonable to completely dislike a book for reminding me of something that made me happy.
Unlike most YA fantasy novels, The Queen’s Rising didn’t use romance to speed up the plot. Brienna had more important issues to deal with than with her drama with her master. I actually wasn’t a fan of the love story in this book since teacher-student relationships generally make me uncomfortable. Still, I appreciated the “innocent” or “genuine” connection between Brienna and Cartier.
Family and female friendship were some of the significant themes in The Queen’s Rising. Brienna had healthy relationships with her sisters/schoolmates in Magnalia House. This helped her overcome various obstacles and cope with the absence of her parents (and her nearly nonexistent grandfather). Brienna’s journey of self-discovery was memorable because it delineated the importance of forgiveness, humility, and falling far from the tree.
Overall, I am very satisfied with how this book ended, so I kinda wish that it were a standalone. It’s been a long time since I’ve read such a pleasing and well-written fantasy novel . 🙂 The only thing that bothered my was the repetitive adjectives or descriptions (e.g. ruddy, mellow, etc.) I’m just a grammar Nazi, so I’m sure other readers will find the latter complaint as negligible.