Please Note: I received an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.
Synopsis (From GoodReads):
Princess Haven was never meant to be Queen.
Her immortality has saved her time and time again, but when the last of her royal family dies at her feet, she is next in line to rule a nation on the brink of war. With no formal training on how to be Queen, Haven must rise to the occasion with the help of her best friends, and personal guard, or risk losing everyone she has ever loved.
With war to the West, and no escape to the East, the evil tyrant Kadia sets her sights on the six kingdoms. Haven’s neighbors are quick to fall under the swords of Kadia’s shadow soldiers, leaving a sea of bodies and a clear path to Haven’s only home.
As Kadia’s obsession with Haven mounts, little time remains, and Haven must make a choice; join together with her fellow Royals, and test her immortality in a final stand against the evil Queen, or flee across the sea to a foreign republic in hopes of salvation. Both choices have a cost. Both plans could go awry. Haven must decide quickly, or she might be the only one left.
Review:I love books about queens and royalty. Throw in some fantasy elements and a little romance, and I'm at the mercy of the author. They are fun, and escapist novels. While this book did have those elements, it had a depth to it that I was not expecting. It was also, at times, an incredibly violent and disturbing book that I would only recommend to older teens and adults.
What I liked:Characters:
Haven endures so much throughout this book. She starts off as an innocent teen who's family is murdered by Kadia, The Mad Queen. She has been gifted/cursed with immortality which seems to only bring pain to her life. Over time, many terrible things happen to her that leave her scared, anxious, and angry.
The trials she must endure are very difficult to read through. But I love that Haven is able to work through her pain and fear. She must learn to use these emotions to regain control of her life. And she has a wonderful group of friends to guide her way.
Haven's girl guards are a group of female warriors who have been assigned to protect the queen. But as Haven rightly points out, she can't be killed. She can, however, be damaged psychologically. When Haven's life is broken from the abuse she takes from Kadia, it is these kind, patient, friends who help her pick up the pieces. I loved the support they gave her. While it did take a while for her friends to comprehend what Haven needed (She did NOT want to talk it out), they were finally able to help her channel her emotions into making her a powerful advocate for others (and a strong warrior, as well).
This book is set in a world much like our own in the middle ages (a popular trope), but then makes little tweaks to create a surprising land. Besides Haven's immortality, Kadia has the power to control others, transform shadows into deadly soldiers, and predict the future. Later, another character has even more unusual abilities. Interestingly, the only ones (so far in the series) with powers are women! There are also frightening creatures that the group encounters on a journey.
What I Didn't Like:Depictions of Violence and Rape:
While I understand that these elements are essential to the transformation of Haven from a naive teen into a woman, the scenes of violence toward her were very hard to read.
I think what disturbed me most about these scenes was that they were so sudden and random. If you have triggers for violence or rape, I don't think you should read this book.
Release Date: May 11th, 2016
Genre: YA Fantasy
Format: ARC E-Book
Recommendation: This an imaginative book with plenty of action and romance. But I wouldn't recommend this to people who have triggers for extreme violence or rape.