Friday, 5 October 2018

Review: The Caged Queen by Kristen Ciccarelli

Huge thanks to Gollancz for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

Publication date: 25th September 2018
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 400 pages

Once there were two sisters born with a bond so strong that it forged them together forever. When they were angry, mirrors shattered, and when they were happy, flowers bloomed. It was a magic they cherished—until the day a terrible accident took Essie’s life and trapped her soul in this world.
Dax—the heir to Firgaard’s throne—was responsible for the accident. Roa swore to hate him forever. But eight years later he returned, begging for her help. He was determined to dethrone his cruel father, under whose oppressive reign Roa’s people had suffered. Roa made him a deal: she’d give him the army he needed if he made her queen.
Together with Dax and his sister, Asha, Roa and her people waged war and deposed a tyrant. But now Asha is on the run, hiding from the price on her head. And Roa is an outlander queen, far from home and married to her enemy. Worst of all: Dax’s promises go unfulfilled. Roa’s people continue to suffer.
Then a chance to right every wrong arises—an opportunity for Roa to rid herself of this enemy king and rescue her beloved sister. During the Reliquishing, when the spirits of the dead are said to return, Roa can reclaim her sister for good.
All she has to do is kill the king.

Today I have the hugely exciting pleasure of being a review stop on "The Caged Queen" blog tour. Please do go and check out the other stops (full list below) for a range of excerpts and reviews, and then go and pick up a copy of the book!

I adored "The Last Namsara" so when I heard that a companion/sequel novel was coming this year, it went straight onto my auto-buy list and did not disappoint. Ciccarelli has expanded on the intricate and beautiful world she created with the first book, and created a truly beautiful follow up.

What I love about companion novels is the ability to expand on the world in new and exciting directions that would otherwise remain unknown (see Fire by Kristin Cashore as a truly excellent example of this) and Ciccarelli has offered us precisely that. A look at the events that follow "The Last Namsara", whilst filling in some patches of what happened whilst the events in the first book were unfolding, and offering us new facets on characters that were introduced in the first book.

That's possibly the element that I enjoyed the most about this book, that we got to see more insights for some of these characters that Asha couldn't provide. It offered a more complex view of these people, that only served to make the story feel more vibrant and real.
This is enhanced by the wonderful world building and snippets of lore that we're given between some chapters. I loved these inclusions in the first book and was thrilled to see them back again now. Ciccarelli has created a really fascinating world, and each insight and peak into the past and the lore that developed these people only serves to highlight that.

If you enjoyed the first book then this is a definite must read. Roa is a wonderful protagonist and I loved seeing more of her in this story as we explored more of the Scrublanders lives and evolution, and how the after effects of the revolution in book one play out.

Ciccarelli has cemented herself as a writer to watch, and I cannot wait to see where she goes from here. If you liked "The Wrath and the Dawn", "The Winner's Curse", "Seraphina" or "The Seven Kingdoms" trilogy, then these books are a definite must read.

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