The Queen’s Rising, by Rebecca Ross
Publish Date: February 6, 2018
Published by: HarperTeen
Genre: YA Fantasy
My Rating: ★★★★★ (4.5 out of 5 stars)
**I received this as an egalley from the publisher through Edelweiss in return for an honest review.**
When her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron.
Growing up in the southern Kingdom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her for such a life. While some are born with an innate talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she belatedly chose to study knowledge. However, despite all her preparations, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true—the solstice does not go according to plan and she is left without a patron.
Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, and with no other choices, she accepts. But there is much more to his story, and Brienna soon discovers that he has sought her out for his own vengeful gain. For there is a dangerous plot being planned to overthrow the king of Maevana—the archrival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. And others are involved—some closer to Brienna than she realizes.
With war brewing between the two lands, Brienna must choose whose side she will remain loyal to—passion or blood. Because a queen is destined to rise and lead the battle to reclaim the crown. The ultimate decision Brienna must determine is: Who will be that queen?
This was one of those books for me where I knew from the first chapter that I was going to love it. It drew me in utterly and completely, kept me thinking about it whenever I wasn’t reading it, and altogether left me feel satiated and happy. Rebecca Ross has created a gem of a novel that, if you are a lover of fantasy, is something you should definitely add to your TBR. It’s bright, heartwarming, and hopeful, while also full of intrigue and action, a romance to fall in love with, and characters that make you wish you knew them in real life.
From the prologue to the end, Ross’s writing is, simply put, beautiful. She builds up her fantasy world carefully and completely, painting a gorgeous picture of a historical French-inspired land where passions – art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge – are esteemed by all, and contrasts it with a Scottish-type country full of warriors and queens. And she does this without ever painting either country in a negative light. The protagonist, Brienna, who hails from both countries, sees only the positives of both and strives to find the parts of herself that come from both societies. It’s both wonderful and heartwarming and gives off such feelings of pride for being of more than one thing.
The plot for me was wonderfully intriguing, as it went from Brienna’s final days as an arden of knowledge to her pursuit of returning the throne of Maevana to its rightful queen. The whole thing moved at an excellent pace, although the stretch where she lived with her patron and adoptive-father felt a little quick in terms of their relationship growth. If the plotting and planning that happened during those scenes went any slower I probably would have pulled my hair out, but I do wish the father-daughter relationship had been developed more during those moments. I did also feel that Brienna’s plan came about very easily, considering that her patron father and the others had been trying to come up with something for twenty-five years, and she somehow figured out the best course of action in less than a month. In fact, a lot of the plot felt easy to me – I wished there had been a little more conflict, a little more suspense around some moments. It still left me feeling happy at the end, but I just wanted some of those twists throughout the story.
I fully enjoyed the characters, especially Brienna and her strength and determination in everything she chose. She was a great protagonist to read by, her relationships with people were wonderful, and I loved how much she loved those close to her. I definitely fell for her relationship with Cartier easily, although he as a character kind of fell by the wayside towards the second half of the book. Maybe it was because things at that point were focusing more on the battles and regaining the queen’s throne, but I just missed reading about them together and learning about each other. A few moments of this happened here and there in the second half, but maybe they just didn’t go into enough depth to satiate me personally. He just kind of became there to be there for Brienna no matter what she chose, and while I could appreciate that, I would have liked to known more about his own goals, desires, conflicts, etc. that he might have still been dealing with. There were many other side characters that I really enjoyed, many of whom I am itching to know more about, but all of them definitely made this novel such a wonder to read.
This book just gave me life. I loved the historical elements from our world that were blended into this fantasy one, the positive light shed on so many aspects of people and places, the romance, the relationships, and just the whole plot in and of itself. It was sweet and strong, beautiful and sharp, full of hope and conflict – perfectly two in one. If you enjoy historical fantasy, then this one is definitely for you.