Weird dystopian novels with a medieval-type setting? Sign me up.
This trilogy is pretty great, and our protagonist, Kelsea, is a strong, intellectual humanist who is thrown into the role of queen after a life of virtual solitude. With almost every part of the kingdom serving as a haunting reminder of her mother’s failures, as well as a lacking support system, the young queen reigns with her heart leading the way — all while the infamous Red Queen threatens her borders and the lives of her people.
I think the strongest part of this trilogy is Kelsea’s character development. There are other strong characters, such as the Red Queen herself (who you will likely love and hate at the same time, which is the best kind of villain); the Mace, Kelsea’s captain of the guard, whose rugged exterior serves to hide a troubled past (that I wish we would have gotten to learn even more about); Javel, the gate guard batting severe regret and depression (who you cant help but root for); and many others with fascinating back stories. But Kelsea, naturally, outshines them all.
Throughout the series, there were some points that didn’t quite stick, though. Character development was mostly great, but sometimes the plot can drag on a bit. This isn’t a huge deal for me, but if you need to be hooked on every page, it might bog your brain down a bit. I kind of sped through the pages of military strategy or other more dull parts so I could get back to the crux of the characters. I think some of the finer details could have been better executed.
The ironic part of this trilogy is that the third book is simultaneously my favorite and least favorite of the three. In the first, we learn who Kelsea is, and we learn about the world she’s in. In the second, we see ghosts of the past who shaped Kelsea’s society and world. And in the third, we see more of those ghosts, and it’s this particular telling that drew me in and had me hooked. I finished this third book in like two days.
But as I read the final pages, I was overwhelmed with a sense of disappointment. I should preface that statement with the point that I could see someone totally enjoying how the plot plays out, so don’t let my disappointment be a discouragement. Either way, you’ll be punched in the gut at the end.
This is unlike anything I’ve ever read, and getting lost in Kelsea’s world was a pretty harrowing but magnificent journey. Though I wish some of the other characters were more thoroughly explored, the trilogy is worth a read.