Not long ago, Daleina used her strength and skill to survive those spirits and assume the royal throne. Since then, the new queen has kept the peace and protected the humans of her land. But now for all her power, she is hiding a terrible secret: she is dying. And if she leaves the world before a new heir is ready, the spirits that inhabit her beloved realm will run wild, destroying her cities and slaughtering her people.
Ven has a single task: to find the best possible candidate to protect the people of Aratay. He did it once when he discovered Daleina, and he’s certain he’s done it again. Yet for all his appeals to duty, Naelin is a mother, and she knows her duty is to her children first and foremost. Only as the Queen’s power begins to wane and the spirits become emboldened—even as ominous rumors trickle down from the north—does she realize that the best way to keep her son and daughter safe is to risk everything.
*There may be spoilers from the first book, so if you haven’t read it and wish to do so, you shouldn’t read this review.
This second installment in The Queens of Renthia trilogy was significantly better than the first novel in this series. The story picks up right where we left off: Daleina became the Queen of Aratay, all the other heirs are dead, and the spirits are once more back under the Queen’s control. This balance, however, doesn’t last long once the Queen starts showing signs that she might be suffering from a mortal condition and that her power might be weakening.
The first positive thing I have to say about this is that a lot of things that were only hinted at in The Queen of Blood were given detailed explanations here; the world-building was further explained, the characters felt more developed and not as two-dimensional as in the first one -even if I still think we could have been done away with one particular romantic relationship. And even though no one knows how women are the only ones who can have an affinity towards spirits and have the power to control them, the magic of how that control is enforced was a little bit more developed, since this was mainly the focus of the book’s plotline.
We are also introduced to new characters, some of which I really enjoyed reading about. Naelin gets to share the main character status just as Daleina does, and even though her whining about not wanting power annoyed me at the beginning, it is understandable taking into account she is a mother of two kids and she only ever wanted to be left alone. In the end, I think she came around and understood that it was selfish of her to think that way when the people of Aratay needed the protection that she could offer.
Now onto the problems I had while reading this. The romantic relationship that came out of nowhere in the first book and had no foundation or development whatsoever. It’s hard to believe the love Daleina and Hamon claim to have for each other, when we haven’t been given any kind of reason for us to believe in it. The only reason I could find for this to still be a thing in the second book was because they needed the help from Hamon’s mother. That was it.
Another thing I think was completely ridiculous was how Daleina’s sister became a master at preparing and identifying poisons overnight. Even if she had the best poisoner teacher in the whole fucking world, there is no way you can make me believe that a teenager of 14 years old is going to master the arts of poisoning in just a matter of three days. Like, no. It’s not gonna happen. Try again.
And the most important of them all, the poisoner’s reveal that wasn’t much of a reveal. Seriously?! The author was basically pointing with a finger at the person who ended up being the poisoner with the hints she was giving all throughout the book. It was way too obvious. And the worst thing was that she started doing that since the middle of the book!! I had to sit there and stare like-I-was-in-the-office style every time the poisoner tried to hide the OBVIOUS signs of guilt on it’s face. It took everything away from what could have been an extraordinary climax when the reveal was done. But no, you could see who it was from a mile away.
Like I’ve said, this was still much better than the first book, especially because a lot of questions I had were explained here, and the characters felt more well-rounded as well. But that wasn’t enough. My attention wavered more than once while reading this, because I wasn’t fully invested in what was going on with the characters. I still had a lot of issues with this series that go beyond whether or not I like how original this YA fantasy story is. Do I recommend it? Sure, if you are the type of person who reads YA fantasy and is tired of seeing the same kind of plot being used over and over again, then you may find the premise for this trilogy interesting and unique. Personally, its uniqueness was not enough to catch my attention.