I won’t lie, this is the first book review I’ve done since primary school. I’ve been thinking about writing some for a while, but when I finished The Fallen Queen I knew this was it. What can I say? It’s just one of those books you can’t stop talking about.
I want to start with the characters, since they are still resonating so strongly in my head. Two in particular had me regularly cracking up, but they weren’t just there for comic relief. Their struggles were as heart-wrenching as they were heart-warming, and while I thought I had the romantic subplot guessed, I was thrilled to be proven wrong more than once. The main character was neither flamboyantly bad-ass nor a damsel in distress and instead had moments of both, and it was that combination which made her actions ring out as honest, true, and very likeable. The villainess was beautifully portrayed (and by that I mean I can feel the diamonds woven into her silken robes beneath my hands, such was the skill of her description) and I yearned to know more about her. In fact, my only complaint is that I felt she must have had a deeper motivation than she ever let on.
While we’re on the subject of descriptions, a lot must be said for the world building. The story took me from the pure and pristine scenes of Heaven to its fascinating back alleys and gambling dens, and then on to the spectacular European Alps, with such realism that any writer trying to improve their showing instead of telling should really take note. The descriptions are built up organically so that the information feels incidental yet turns out to be incredibly vivid, and the same techniques are used for characterization too. I can’t remember a single instance where description stalled the flow, and I love the use of unique and varying beats to show the characters’ emotions.
Again reading this as a writer, I loved the twisting plot and the constant increase in both internal and external conflict. Chapters often ended with dramatic one-liners but the effect is subtle and modest enough not to irritate. My only disappointment, if you can even call it that, related to a minor subplot. It had me absolutely fascinated from the start, only to be resolved halfway through with a two sentence explanation I neither understood nor wanted to believe. The book is part of a series thought, so with luck my questions will be resolved in the next instalment.
There is a lot to applaud in the editing, too. Elegant descriptions clashed beautifully against the dialogue of some of the rougher characters, but the swearing was never gratuitous and only served to increase the emotional tension. There was a hardly a beat used twice, and hardly a clichéd description anywhere. And the fact that words were rarely repeated in close proximity to each other – an intense pet hate of mine – kept the pace fast and smooth.
Finally, the themes of the novel were embedded subtly enough that the message came through without me feeling lectured. I won’t mention my interpretations at the risk of spoiling anyone else’s, because whenever I read I like to mull that sort of thing over for myself afterward. And I’m sure over the next few days I’ll be doing just that.
Overall, a fantastic read with just the right amount of mystery and action. 8/10