Review of The Cursed Queen by Sarah Fine

thecursedqueenThe Cursed Queen
By: Sarah Fine
Release Date: January 3rd 2017
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

My Rating
star

Summary:
Ansa has always been a fighter.

As a child, she fought the invaders who murdered her parents and snatched her as a raid prize. She fought for her place next to Thyra, the daughter of the Krigere Chieftain. She fought for her status as a warrior in her tribe: blood and victory are her way of life. But the day her Krigere cross the great lake and threaten the witch queen of the Kupari, everything changes.

Cursed by the queen with fire and ice, Ansa is forced to fight against an invisible enemy—the dark magic that has embedded itself deep in her bones. The more she seeks to hide it, the more dangerous it becomes. And with the Krigere numbers decimated and the tribe under threat from the traitorous brother of the dead Chieftain, Ansa is torn between her loyalty to the Krigere, her love for Thyra, and her own survival instincts.

With her world in chaos and each side wanting to claim her for their own, only one thing is certain: unless Ansa can control the terrible magic inside her, everything she’s fought for will be destroyed.

My Thoughts:
Last year’s The Imposter Queen was one of my favorite reads of the year so I was beyond happy to see a sequel being released. I hadn’t expected for this sequel to be more companion novel than sequel and for it to focus on  new characters but it did. I was thrown off at first but it didn’t take long for me to really get involved in this story.

A lot happens within this novel and so the pacing was fast. I felt it was an easy book to get immersed in and it was never a struggle to pick it up. I was always eager to see what would unfold next.

In The Cursed Queen we follow Ansa, a warrior and Krigere (they are a tribe and were mentioned in the first book but briefly). Her life with her tribe is rough and violent. She’s been raised to strive for more kills and be ruthless. This book focused on her growth and her realization that she has been cursed with the magic her tribe fears and hates. When she’s suddenly an outsider amongst the people she’s strived to be accepted by it really rocks her world view. I loved that she had so much to figure out about herself and the world. I loved delving into her life, memories and choices for the future.

Her relationship with her Chieftain, and love interest, Thyra was really well done and developed. You could easily feel the tension and chemistry between these two. Fine always excels at creating realistic and deep characters and she succeeds in this book. Even the side characters are unique and captivating. Even the characters with dark motives interested me and I could see glimmers of good in them. This is my favorite aspect of Fine’s writing- her ability to put heart into each character.

I really loved that this story overlaps and intersects with The Imposter Queen. Both stories take place at the same time and as you read you start to see them connect and everything falls into place. This set-up worked so well and I just know that the final novel will be amazing. I’ll be so well connected to all the characters I’m sure it’ll be one emotional read.

thecursedqueenig

Final Thoughts:
As with all of Sarah Fine’s books, The Cursed Queen, was a fast paced novel with incredible characters and a storyline to keep you hooked. I loved how it intersected with The Cursed Queen though focused on different characters. I though this was a bold and unique way to continue the story.

Review of The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace

thestoryspinnerThe Storyspinner
By: Becky Wallace
Release Date: March 3rd 2015
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
In a world where dukes plot their way to the throne, a Performer’s life can get tricky. And in Johanna Von Arlo’s case, it can be fatal. Expelled from her troupe after her father’s death, Johanna is forced to work for the handsome Lord Rafael DeSilva. Too bad they don’t get along. But while Johanna’s father’s death was deemed an accident, the Keepers aren’t so sure.

The Keepers, a race of people with magical abilities, are on a quest to find the princess—the same princess who is supposed to be dead and whose throne the dukes are fighting over. But they aren’t the only ones looking for her. And in the wake of their search, murdered girls keep turning up—girls who look exactly like the princess, and exactly like Johanna.

With dukes, Keepers, and a killer all after the princess, Johanna finds herself caught up in political machinations for the throne, threats on her life, and an unexpected romance that could change everything.

The Story:
I found this book to have a wonderful, moderate pace which was absorbing but not break neck. I was able to enjoy taking my time to read this but always felt interested in the storyline. I loved that Wallace incorporated a good portion of action in the last half of the book. I felt that the magic, sword fights and horse chases were beautifully descriptive and so easy to visualize. I could picture everything clearly and felt that Wallace pulled from some of my early fantasy roots.

The setting was lush and though this is a fantasy the book’s world wasn’t incredibly far fetched. Many aspects echo our own world and you can see the author’s inspiration being derived from real places, animals etc (check out her Pintrest page to see more). I personally liked this aspect because it made everything very easy to visualize as well as the magical elements seem that much more magical.

I loved the Performer’s camp and the caravan elements. The namesake of the title- Storyspinner- was touched upon and there are a few scenes where you get to witness what it might possibly feel like to sit in the audience and watch someone perform. I could easily picture these parts as a movie and am ready to see a Storyspinner in real life (please and thank you).

Be aware- in the last part of the book there were some scenes with animal violence though it didn’t feel overdone or too detailed. It hurt for me to read but it did match the tone and storyline of the book. I just want to warn those that have serious issues to be prepared.

The Characters:
This book utilized a lot of point of views (at least 5) but it was done very well and each character felt distinct to me. I felt that switching POVs allowed me to see the story from different angles and helped enhance my reading experience. Honestly, I think it’s rather difficult to accomplish this and Wallace succeeded.

I did find myself favoring one character in particular and that was Pira. I really loved reading from her view point and watching the internal struggle with her feelings towards a certain Keeper. I thought her insecurities, jealousies and strength combined to make her a delightfully flawed, yet strong character.

In some ways Johanna was the main character of the story and I felt that she too was wonderful. She was loyal and brave though she carried some guilt and resentment as well. I felt that as the series progresses we’ll see more character growth for all the characters but Johanna in particular. With the way this book was done none of the view points felt all that secondary and each of the main leads had elements that kept me interested in their particular storyline. There are side characters and they were done very well. We get to see some of them from multiple point of views which I always love since you see different elements shine.

This book was not romance heavy -I felt that there was just enough to keep me hooked and to be honest I could use just a tad more in the next book. I have a couple I’m shipping so that’s always a plus.

Final Thoughts:
The Storyspinner was a very strong debut and I’m excited for this new series to continue. Becky Wallace’s writing was strong as well as her ability to reveal the story through multiple view points. I enjoyed her characters and my only qualm was the small amount of animal violence- though I can’t really fault it in this type of book–lots of fighting and magic being thrown around there will obviously be causalities. Simply, I’d like more now please.

Check out my interview with Becky Wallace and enter to win a copy of the book