Anna Marie Martin‘s review
Kelsea is a girl who was raised in the forest by people who are not her parents. The day she turns nineteen, she an armed guard comes to fetch her so that she can be raised to Queen. She survives assassination attempts, and learns to become a good queen. The backbone of this novel is character, and the characters in this novel are well-developed, with great arcs. The introductions to chapters provide fine exposition, without being too annoying.
The two male characters who are the most interesting are The Mace, who becomes Captain of the Queen’s Guard. He has several talents, which include “a feeling in his gut,” killing, and well, killing. The Fetch, who presents as Master of Thieves, is the object of a crush by Kelsea. He has been kept alive by magical means, and I’m betting money that he’s going to turn out to be her father – it’s just a guess. Maybe an uncle, maybe not. There’s back story, people: that’s what I’m saying. Niblets of back story.
Without revealing too much, I will say that Kelsea never knew her mother. Her mother made a terrible bargain with the invading country’s army at the door, which Kelsea knows nothing about, because her mother made all those people who knew her swear never to tell Kelsea. So much of Kelsea’s character arc deals with the mysteries of her parents, but not in a Harry Potter kind of way – her mother made terrible mistakes, that Kelsea must learn to live with or undo.
I liked this novel a lot. I hope that the antagonist (The Red Queen, a sorceress!) becomes less of a trope and more of a problem character in the sequels.