The Return of a Lost Heir …
The kingdom of Mercia has been at war with the Shadow King and his dark army for ten years. To escape the seer’s vision of her capture, Mercia’s heir to the throne, Princess Norah Andell, is secreted away by her father to keep her safe. But when he dies in battle, so too dies the knowledge of where she’s hidden. She’s lost to the world—until three years later, when she’s found with no memory of who she is or the kingdom that now rests on her shoulders.
A Conflicted Duty …
Loyal and fearless commander of the Mercian army, Alexander Rhemus, has protected the realm against the threat of the Shadow King, awaiting Norah’s return. Not only does she hold the fate of the kingdom, but also his heart. However, when she’s found, he discovers she has no memory of him, or what was once between them. With war still looming, Norah is expected to wed and secure an alliance—one Mercia desperately needs to stand against the Shadow King. Now, with Mercia’s future at stake, Alexander finds himself torn between his duty and his heart.
A Twisted Fate …
Norah is thrust into a world she doesn’t know, in a role she’s unprepared for, to save a kingdom she doesn’t remember. Under the hardship of winter and a dark enemy against them, Mercia is on the verge of breaking. As things start to unravel, the Shadow King draws Norah down a path of twisted fate—and it could cost her everything.
Consciousness came like a dream, bending the mind as dreams often do.
* Thanks to NetGalley and Columbia River Publishing for an eARC of this book. The following review is my honest reflection on the text provided. *
I was very surprised by how much I loved North Queen. Not only am I very used to this particular fantasy narrative, but it has a striking resemblance to several I’ve read in the last few months alone (from the Plated Prisoner series to the Flesh & Fire series, with even a few shades of Fourth Wing).
I will admit that Norah seems to spend a lot of time swanning around doing nothing, only to become mortally aggrieved over something and demand retribution or for someone to fix it immediately. And that someone is always Mikael, and it’s always at a not-great time. To be fair, whatever she’s upset about is probably within reason - there’s usually murder or a severe restriction of rights involved - but she never attempts to reciprocate and ensure that this relationship being forged isn’t entirely one-sided. And it would be more believable if Norah worked a little harder since we’re supposed to believe that Mikael is obsessed with her after she didn’t abandon him to a slow death by poison that one time.
But Norah is a surprisingly refreshing female protagonist, despite the above rant. Her many attempts to escape are valiant - I like that she didn’t just give up immediately, and a few kind words or looks didn’t immediately convince her that everyone was good and friendly. She asks questions and demands answers without giving away too many of her own. She develops from someone who can’t lie to someone who knows what secrets to keep and when very quickly. I like her loyalty and her passion, and I like that she’s allowed to be more than one thing. Norah is allowed to have complicated feelings and change her mind and change it back, and she doesn’t come off as flighty or superficial. She totally won me over, and it’s really her character that makes me want to pick up the next book in this series immediately - a feeling I haven’t had for quite some time (is the slump over? Will I jinx it if I ask that?!). Even the amnesia trope didn’t bother me too much - probably because it wasn’t just a quick thing to force an event or plot point. I didn’t expect it to last the whole book, and I’m curious to see how Norah gets her memories back and what she does with them once she does.
Unfortunately, the male characters tend to be a little monotone and underdeveloped. I don’t know if it’s just the limited perspective chapters or because they’re the stock standard fantasy ‘men’:
-hometown love interest who will become the bad guy on his journey to ‘save’ helpless female that (surprise) doesn’t need saving
-enemies to lovers to enemies to friends to enemies to lovers dark king who warns you he’s the bad guy while actually being the good guy
-dark king’s best friend who either betrays him in an attempt to ‘save him’ from the wily temptress or proves his loyalty and probably joins threesome because he’s (surprise again) also in love with best friend
North Queen has managed to buck a few other stereotypes I was expecting so far, so I’m hoping to see these characters develop in surprising ways moving forward in this series.
The worldbuilding is by far my favourite part of North Queen. I love the settings that Tyche describes, and I can’t wait to learn more about the Wild. I hope we get to spend more time with the Horsemen and Tahla. The little sprinkling of background politics and mysteries seems promising, and I can’t wait to find out what they turn into.
I’m so glad I received this eARC and am only sad I put off reading it for so long. Very much looking forward to the rest of the series, which surprisingly is already available!