The Queen of BloodSeries: The Queens of Renthia #1
by Sarah Beth Durst
Published by HarperCollins, Harper Voyager on September 20th 2016
I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
An idealistic young student and a banished warrior become allies in a battle to save their realm in this first book of a mesmerizing epic fantasy series, filled with political intrigue, violent magic, malevolent spirits, and thrilling adventure
Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow . . .
But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to prevent the spirits from destroying every man, woman, and child. But queens are still just human, and no matter how strong or good, the threat of danger always looms.
With the position so precarious, young women are chosen to train as heirs. Daleina, a seemingly quiet academy student, is under no illusions as to her claim to the throne, but simply wants to right the wrongs that have befallen the land. Ven, a disgraced champion, has spent his exile secretly fighting against the growing number of spirit attacks. Joining forces, these daring partners embark on a treacherous quest to find the source of the spirits’ restlessness—a journey that will test their courage and trust, and force them to stand against both enemies and friends to save their land . . . before it’s bathed in blood.
So there’s this Queen that can keep everyone safe from the mean, nasty natural spirits that inhabit this world. The Queen can do this by controlling these water, fire, earth, wood, and air spirits by using the power they gave her over them. Do you see anything wrong with this scenario? Oh, yeah, a lot can go wrong…
In The Queen of Blood, Daleina lives in a world where everyone either lives in a city or in the outer villages, but all live above ground in the trees. Everyone has “hedgewitch”-made charms on their homes to protect it just in case a spirit decides to get a bit out of hand. But everyone believes in the Queen and her power to control all the spirits in her territory and keep them safe. Because a spirit’s two main instinct’s are to create and to destroy.
So when a group of four spirits destroy an entire village, you might guess something is amiss… and you would be dead-on correct.
I originally had it in my head that this book was young adult. It might have been the Goodreads users that classified that way. But being under the Harper Voyager imprint, The Queen of Blood technically isn’t young adult. Ms. Durst’s website even has it listed as adult. But as I read this story, I would say this story isn’t all that profound. It has it’s fair share of surprises, nefarious characters, and character struggles. But it’s pretty straight forward and easy to understand. I would say that this book would appeal to the “older” young adult crowd, for certain. Being the Queen of Blood, there’s a fair amount of blood and death in this book that may be a bit too much for the typical young adult reader.
Speaking of blood and death… the spirits and their features were so fascinating and unique! I thought it was where this book’s strength lies; in it’s world building and imaginative visions of creatures that dwell in the world. I could easily picture the school and it’s practice ring where students practiced “controlling” spirits and surviving. As we follow Daleina’s struggle to find her power to control the spirits and prove she’s worthy to be one of the Queen’s heirs, we are transported through the city and out through the forests. There are some pretty amazing ways that some people get around quickly in the forest canopy – along wires! You have to read it to believe it…
Besides Daleina, there are a ton of other characters in this book that I absolutely loved! The disgraced Champion, Ven, I picture looking like Ewan McGregor and acting like a lot like Atticus from the Iron Druid series. And even though at times Ven was dumb and blind to the facts staring him in the face, he was a fantastic voice in the story! Resident mean-girl, Merecot, even has a fan in me and I can’t wait to see… well, I just can’t wait. 😉
So if you’re in the market for a new fantasy series but don’t want complicated and dragging storylines, this is the book for you. All wrapped up in a pretty bow at the end with NO cliffhanger, there is still room for other books to follow. As I alluded to before, I’m looking forward to future “Queen” books. I can’t wait to see what happens when they run into each other…
Adult and older YA readers in need of a new, easy fantasy series who enjoy a bit of blood & death… lots & lots of death….