ARC Review: QUEEN OF RUIN by Tracy Banghart

I received a free eARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: Yes - second book of duology

*SPOILER ALERT: contains SPOILERS for GRACE AND FURY*

Synopsis:

queen of ruinBanished by Asa, Nomi and Malachi find themselves powerless and headed towards their all-but-certain deaths. Now that Asa sits on the throne, he will stop at nothing to make sure Malachi never sets foot in the palace again. Their only hope is to find Nomi’s sister, Serina, on the prison island of Mount Ruin. But when Nomi and Malachi arrive, it is not the island of conquered, broken women that they expected. It is an island in the grip of revolution, and Serina–polite, submissive Serina–is its leader.

Betrayal, grief, and violence have changed both sisters, and the women of Mount Ruin have their sights set on revenge beyond the confines of their island prison. They plan to sweep across the entire kingdom, issuing in a new age of freedom for all. But first they’ll have to get rid of Asa, and only Nomi knows how.

Separated once again, this time by choice, Nomi and Serina must forge their own paths as they aim to tear down the world they know, and build something better in its place.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Thoughts:

QUEEN OF RUIN was a great sequel that picks up right where its predecessor ends, and continues the growth arcs of the leads.

This seems to becoming a bit of a theme for me, but I hadn’t quite read the full synopsis before I read it. I just knew I liked the first book and wanted to read the second. I am quite liking not exactly knowing what’s coming for sequels. However, it meant I was quite surprised when the sisters split up. I thought they’d stick together and fight Asa as a team, but this actually made far more sense.

As a leader, Serina would be undoing her whole arc if she went with Nomi. Instead, we get some tense sequences on Mount Ruin, and some tough decisions. Not to mention the time it gives Serina to grow into her role – and face some serious challenges.

Nomi going with Malachai meant they got some time together. Not sure I was feeling much chemistry between them, but Nomi is the better lens through which to see what Asa’s been up to – as she has that emotional connection (guilt and anger mainly).

I really liked the ending, and the choices Nomi, Malachai and Serina made. It certainly reflects where they’ve ended up over two books.

A few events, like Nomi’s decision about two-third through and some of the action sequences, didn’t feel like they had enough build up. I’d have like a longer book – I read this in one train journey, having doing the crossword first. I think the book could have done with more time, more page space, to really build up and flesh out events.

The pacing was a bit off, feeling like the alternating Serina and Nomi chapters meant that some scenes had to be condensed or omitted. Serina’s section was fine (though, judging my Nomi’s timeline, more time passed than I thought), but Nomi’s felt really rushed. An extra 25% of page space for here wouldn’t have gone amiss as she met up with characters and travelled distances in half a page. Certain events (e.g. infiltrating the palace) felt too easy and lacking tension.

Unlike in the first book, I felt like the feminist message was being pointed out a bit too obviously. The book itself is a statement, but it sometimes felt like Banghart didn’t quite trust us to know that this action was wrong and oppressing women.

Overall, it was a fun, quick read. There’s certainly space for a sequel or two (and I’d like to see them trying to change the country).


Read my reviews of other books by Tracy Banghart

Grace and Fury (this series):

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