Genre: Fantasy Age Range: YA Star Rating: 4 stars Series: Yes - book 1 of duology
Born out of wedlock, Brienna is cast off by her noble family and sent to Magnolia House – a boarding house for those looking to study the passions: art, music, dramatics, wit and knowledge. Brienna must discover her passion and train hard to perfect her skill, in the hope that she will one day graduate and be chosen by a wealthy patron, looking to support one of the `impassioned’.
As Brienna gets closer to the eve of her graduation, she also grows closer to her smart (and handsome) tutor, Cartier. He can sense that she is hiding a secret, but Brienna chooses not to reveal that she is experiencing memories of her ancestors – memories uncovering the mysteries of the past that may have dangerous consequences in the present.
A daring plot is brewing – to overthrow the usurper king and restore the rightful monarchy – and Brienna’s memories hold the key to its success. Cartier desperately wants to help Brienna, but she must chose her friends wisely, keep her enemies close and trust no one if she is to save herself and her people.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
THE QUEEN’S RISING is an engaging read, with a fascinating world. I loved the contrasts between the two countries, and how their flaws were so clearly laid out. Warrior vs arts, but with both praised and picked clean. There was a tug between these two for Brienna and the other characters who were either natives of both or grew up in a country other than their own. That tension of home, nation and self was so well done and it meant that Brienna’s final choice for her future was so satisfying.
This is a much slower paced book than most YAs. I liked that, as it meant there was more time for world-building and developing the relationships. It also drew out the different loyalties the characters had, giving the reader time to understand the complex characters.
The found family dynamics take centre stage of the second half of the book. I loved watching Brienna with Jourdain and Luc, they interacted so easily and so friendly, immediately accepting and loving one another.
I loved the friendship between the passions. The way the six girls were supporting each other through the stress of the final weeks at their school, then the interviews with patrons, reminded me of the way my best friends and I supported one another. I appreciated the way that one of the girls was brought back for the second half, to maintain the connection to the school.
The romance is not a pivotal part of the book, but it is a teacher-student relationship. Yes, she’s graduated, but she’s only just and that relationship dynamic always makes me uncomfortable. Teachers are in a position of trust and authority, which a romantic relationship breaks.
This book reads like a standalone, but it’s the first in a duology. There’s no big cliffhanger, which was a nice surprise. I’m excited to see where the next book goes, as there was no hint in this book.
Read my reviews of other books by Rebecca Ross:
The Queen’s Rising (this series):
The Elements of Cadence: