First Lines: A hundred doves burst out of the pie. I don’t know why I was surprised. Of course there were a few hundred doves in the pie. It had been the size of a table, and the king wouldn’t open his birthday celebration by actually feeding his guests. Not when he could amaze us all with his extravagance instead.
ARC attack! (I got tired of saying “ARC alert” and this sounded so much more fun.) So I received a copy of this from Edelweiss in return for a review, but this had been on my to-read list for a while before I got it. You’ll see why in just a minute. But anyway, this book comes out on February 21, 2017, if you were curious.
Freya should never have been queen. As the 23rd person in line to inherit the throne, the odds were astronomically stacked against this budding scientist ever wearing the crown. But that was all before an extravagant banquet becomes a deadly affair and Freya is one of the few left standing. While she may have escaped death, she’s not safe. Her councilors don’t respect her, the nobles ignore her, and the lingering mystery of who actually killed the king could bring her reign to a quick end. Freya may never have wanted to be queen, but she’s going to be the best queen she can be, and that means finding the murderer before they try to kill her. The only problem is that she can’t trust anyone. Not her advisers, not the king’s illegitimate son, not even her own father. Can she find the murderer before she loses her crown?
I want to start by pointing out that this is a YA standalone fantasy novel. I think that means I’ve officially found a unicorn, since the rarity is basically the same. Seriously, how many of those exist? Not very many, I’ve found.
I really did like Freya. This scientific, shy girl wanted nothing more than to escape court and basically live in her laboratory conducting experiments. But when she does get thrust into the spotlight, she learns from her mistakes. She sees what isn’t working, even if (or especially if) it was originally based on advice from others, and makes adjustments. Even though she didn’t want it, she wants to be the best queen she can be. And that attitude was fascinating.
The minor characters were compelling as well. Everyone from the king’s illegitimate son William Fitzroy to Freya’s best friend Naomi to the advisers. No one was perfect. Everyone had a quirk or two, and you truly didn’t know who was being quirky and who was being suspicious. I really liked that it was so difficult to really know what they were actually thinking/doing.
The mystery was pretty good as well. There are definitely clues along the way that give it away if you pay enough attention, but it was also really nice to get lost in the suspicions because, frankly, no one is not suspicious. Everyone has their own agenda and weeding through those takes time. So that was fun.
I will say that the ending was a little lackluster after everything else that had been going on in the story. It didn’t feel as tense as I was hoping it would be, given the situation it was. It was still a good ending, but I wanted a little more from it than I got.
But overall, I thought this was a really fun and entertaining book.