The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross
Published by: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Genre: YA High Fantasy
I don’t usually write my own synopses, but the Goodreads one is so bad I just had to. Don’t go over there and read it unless you’re not planning on reading the book.
Brienna was born and raised in the Kingdom of Valenia, by her Valenian maternal grandfather. She is also the illegitimate child of an unknown Maevan man, and she has always been interested in her Maevan heritage, even if she has never had any real contact with her father’s country. At the age of ten, she is enrolled in Magnalia to learn one of five passions: art, music, dramatics, wit, or knowledge. When she turns seventeen, she is about to graduate from Magnalia as a passion. But she soon finds herself entangled in dangerous Maevan political events. Magic! War! Light romance!
I’m aware that the above description was crap, but trust me on this–it’s still better than the official one.
I am very glad that I did not read (or did not remember) the Goodreads synopsis
before reading this book. Seriously, do not read it. It describes the entire first half of the novel and then some. Why would you do this, HarperTeen?! This isn’t going to make readers like it.
The book itself was better than the synopsis, even if I’m only giving it three stars. My main concern is that there was a lot of background information that was apparently completely pointless for future chapters–why do we need to know everything about Magnalia if the real story doesn’t start until Brienna leaves? Who knows. There was a lot of setup with no payoff. The writing was really pretty at times, though, and I think there was a nice quietness to it that was really wonderful.
As for character, I really liked Brienna and the side characters that come in (there are plenty). No one was especially memorable, but they were fun to read about and her romance storyline was really adorable. Simple and quiet, but still nice. I also really enjoyed that she wasn’t the princess or the future queen or any of that–it was not what I was expecting in this YA fantasy landscape of lost princesses, but I definitely enjoyed that.
This book did suffer from a lot of starts and stops, though. A bunch of things would happen all at once, and then absolutely nothing for multiple chapters. A character that seemed important was introduced, and then it turns out they’re not very important after all. A big mystery is loomed over us, and then a simple world-building fact solves it. It was a little disappointing.
Also, the book was very white. I appreciated the idea that is brought up a lot: that a person who is raised in one country but was born in another feels that strange duality that they don’t really belong in either one (which I feel very hard). But trying to sell that to me through someone who is essentially a French and Irish girl didn’t work very well–especially in the current political landscape. Fantasy doesn’t have to be European all the time! Shocking, I know.
All in all, it had a lot of potential, but it just didn’t hit the mark. I think this book could have gone through a lot more time as a Word doc before being sent out into the world.
Have you read this? Looking forward to it?
Let me know!