The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst

36039814The Queen of Sorrow (The Queens of Renthia #3)
By Sarah Beth Durst
Publisher: Harper Voyager
ISBN: 9780062413383
Pages: 432
Genre: Fantasy

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The battle between vicious spirits and strong-willed queens that started in the award-winning The Queen of Blood and continued in the powerful The Reluctant Queen comes to a stunning conclusion in The Queen of Sorrow, the final volume of Sarah Beth Durst’s Queens of Renthia trilogy.

Queen Daleina has yearned to bring peace and prosperity to her beloved forest home—a hope that seemed doomed when neighboring forces invaded Aratay. Now, with the powerful Queen Naelin ruling by her side, Daleina believes that her dream of ushering in a new era can be realized, even in a land plagued by malevolent nature spirits who thirst for the end of human life.

And then Naelin’s children are kidnapped by spirits.

Nothing is more important to her than her family, and Naelin would rather watch the world burn than see her children harmed. Blaming the defeated Queen Merecot of Semo for the kidnapping, Naelin is ready to start a war—and has the power to do it.

But Merecot has grander plans than a bloody battle with her southern neighbors. Taking the children is merely one step in a plot to change the future of all Renthia, either by ending the threat of spirits once and for all . . . or plunging the world into chaos.


My Thoughts

The Queens of Renthia is one of the top fantasy series that I am quick to recommend when fans of the genre are looking for something new. How I encounter so many that have yet to explore Durst’s world of elemental spirits and venturesome queens is beyond me.  This is a recipe that has continued to work beautifully. The Queen of Sorrow proves just that.

The skinny..

Picking up after The Reluctant Queen, we find Naelin now learning to adapt to her new role on the throne aside Queen Daleina in Aratay. Having stopped Queen’s Merecot’s invasion, the two work to restore peace and prosperity to the land. But when Queen Naelin’s children are abducted by vicious spirits, it soon becomes apparent that Merecot still has a plan up her sleeve. Willing to risk everything for the sake of her own, Naelin’s retaliation could mean war. Will Aratay find themselves pitted against Semo’s ruler in a deadly battle or will Merecot’s plans to forever alter Renthia succeed for good or bad?

“I am not just a woodswoman. I am a woman of the woods. I am the queen.”

What I appreciated..

  • This series continues to evolve in the most phenomenal ways. With each new resolution, we uncover new complications and plots among the thrones.
  • Sarah Beth Durst’s writing remains consistent, meeting expectations and broadening them with each encounter.
  • Dynamic character relationships and growth that offer complexity and internal struggles that drive the story equally alongside the plot.
  • Conflicts that incorporate moral values and a solid sense of the responsibility and challenges that come with leadership and control.
  • World building that is immersive and lush. Each story expands Renthia and invites the reader to explore.
  • A magic system that implements nature and spirits intelligently and feels complete.
  • A fulfilling conclusion that shows the author understands her readers.

“My feet won’t touch the forest floor until it has stories to tell me. I am not done with the trees yet.”

Challenges some may encounter..

  • There were a few characters that could have been developed further such as Bayn and his backstory.
  • Queen Daleina seemed to fall to the wayside at times which in part made sense, but was slightly disappointing since this was the completion of a trilogy.
  • It’s over. Can I count that? I am counting that.

The Queen of Sorrow was a beautiful conclusion to a solid fantasy series that is hard to say goodbye to. The author has created a world and magic system that coexist and are interdependent in the best of ways. Character growth is rewarding and each new addition welcomed. I will be anticipating Sarah Beth Durst’s future works and continue to recommend this series with ease.

*I would like to thank Harper Voyager and Edelweiss for this advanced copy. The above review is my own, unbiased and honest opinion.

tea cup

 

Pairs well with a nice earthy Pu-erh blend.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com Book Depository

*Disclosure: I use affiliate links and may earn a small commission for purchases made through them. Click here for details.

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A McKillip

34330548The Forgotten Beasts of Eld
By Patricia A McKillip
Publisher: Tachyon Publications
ISBN: Tachyon Publications
Pages: 240
Genre: Fantasy

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Young Sybel, the heiress of powerful wizards, needs the company of no one outside her gates. In her exquisite stone mansion, she is attended by exotic, magical beasts: Riddle-master Cyrin the boar; the treasure-starved dragon Gyld; Gules the Lyon, tawny master of the Southern Deserts; Ter, the fiercely vengeful falcon; Moriah, feline Lady of the Night. Sybel only lacks the mysterious Liralen, which continues to elude her most powerful enchantments.

But when a soldier bearing an infant arrives, Sybel discovers that the world of man and magic is full of both love and deceit—and the possibility of more power than she can possibly imagine.

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is one of the true classics of fantasy literature.


My Thoughts

As a fan of the fantasy genre, Patricia A McKillip and The Forgotten Beasts of Eld have both been on my radar for a few years. I cannot honestly say why it has taken me this long to explore them. But better late than never, or as they say, all good things come in time. 

The skinny..

Sybil is an enchantress who lives a life of solitude in the forest among her enchanted beasts. When she is left to care for and raise a male child, she is exposed to the world of men, politics, love, loneliness, and deceit. She finds herself questioning her own power and needs. I am refraining from further explanation here, as I cannot recommend exploring this one enough.

“You can weave your life so long — only so long, and then a thing in the world out of your control will tug at one vital thread and leave you patternless and subdued.”

What I appreciated..

  • An almost dreamlike prose that is beyond comparison to others. McKillip’s writing is sophisticated and immersive.
  • A slow burn examination and study of character and man represented through one woman’s maternal instincts and isolated life.
  • World building that engages the senses and solicits further exploration while refraining from the trivial and frivolous.
  • The author’s refusal to hand everything directly to the reader or rush what is best left to savor at a steady pace.
  • Brilliantly displayed themes of love, grief and personal growth.
  • The beautiful reminder that fantasy can be ever present without the need for heavy elements of action. Sometimes the adventure comes from within.

Challenges some may encounter..

  • Aside from the fact that those who do not appreciate a more leisurely pace may struggle, I really found no flaw in this.

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is a pristine example of why the genre is so timeless. Powerful themes, elegant narration and stunning storytelling meld beautifully into an experience worthy of more praise than one can give in a simple review.

*I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for this copy. The above review is my own, unbiased and honest opinion.

tea cup

 

Pairs wonderfully with a white jasmine tea.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com Book Depository

*Disclosure: I use affiliate links and may earn a small commission for purchases made through them. Click here for details.

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

36697848The Wicked Deep
By Shea Ernshaw
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
ISBN: 9781471166136
Pages: 320
Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal

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Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Two centuries ago, in the small, isolated town, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town. Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return from the depths, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them down to their watery deaths.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into or the fact that his arrival will change everything…

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.


My Thoughts

I happen to be a huge fan of witches and all stories surrounding them. I also love the ocean and settings centered around small seaside towns. Living in Oregon, I hold a certain appreciation for these things and feel a deeper connection when reading about them. I have to admit that The Wicked Deep felt a bit like kismet as I picked it up.

The skinny..

200 years ago, the Swan sisters were accused of witchcraft and sent to meet their watery fate with stones tied around their ankles. Now, each summer in the town of Sparrow, the sisters return to claim their vengeance by inhabiting the body of the young, local female residents and luring boys to a watery grave. Penny Talbot is no stranger to the town’s curse. But when young Bo Carter arrives in town, unsuspecting and disbelieving of the current dangers, she quickly finds herself surrounded by mistrust and difficult choices. Will she be forced to choose between saving herself and this new stranger?

“We wait for death. We hold our breath. We know it’s coming, and still we flinch when it claws at our throats and pulls us under.”

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What I appreciated..

  • Lumiere Island and the atmospheric seaside setting that felt authentic and familiar.
  • Stunning and fluid prose with a successful first-person narrative that carries the story with incredible ease. This will be a one sit read for many.
  • The mysterious lore of the Swan sisters and town’s darker history was well balanced and complex enough to feel viable.
  • Relatable characters with individualized conflicts.
  • The unexpected turn of events and a satisfying conclusion.

Challenges some may encounter..

  • The somewhat rushed element of romance (although the twists throughout make it appealing in its own right).
  • Sometimes one-dimensional feeling characters due to being shrouded in mystery.

“There are legends of mermaids who fall in love with sailors, their devotion granting them a human form. I read about the Irish tales of selkies shedding their sealskins, marrying a human man, and staying on land forever.” 

The Wicked Deep is a fantastic and unsettling tale that the author brilliantly weaves into something tangible and almost natural. It supplies the reader with a magical experience enveloped in paranormal mystery and the end result is genuinely unique and gratifying.

tea cup
Pairs well with a cup of loose leaf white tea.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com Book Depository

*Disclosure: I use affiliate links and may earn a small commission for purchases made through them. Click here for details.

Happy Reading!

Danielle ❤

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