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Filled with political intrigue, violent magic, and malevolent spirits, the mesmerizing second book in Sarah Beth Durst’s Queens of Renthia epic fantasy trilogy.
Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow . . .
And those spirits want to kill you.
It’s the first lesson that every Renthian learns.
Not long ago, Daleina used her strength and skill to survive those spirits and assume the royal throne. Since then, the new queen has kept the peace and protected the humans of her land. But now for all her power, she is hiding a terrible secret: she is dying. And if she leaves the world before a new heir is ready, the spirits that inhabit her beloved realm will run wild, destroying her cities and slaughtering her people.
Naelin is one such person, and she couldn’t be further removed from the Queen—and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Her world is her two children, her husband, and the remote village tucked deep in the forest that is her home, and that’s all she needs. But when Ven, the Queens champion, passes through the village, Naelin’s ambitious husband proudly tells him of his wife’s ability to control spirits—magic that Naelin fervently denies. She knows that if the truth of her abilities is known, it will bring only death and separation from those she loves.
But Ven has a single task: to find the best possible candidate to protect the people of Aratay. He did it once when he discovered Daleina, and he’s certain he’s done it again. Yet for all his appeals to duty, Naelin is a mother, and she knows her duty is to her children first and foremost. Only as the Queen’s power begins to wane and the spirits become emboldened—even as ominous rumors trickle down from the north—does she realize that the best way to keep her son and daughter safe is to risk everything.
Sarah Beth Durst established a place of dark wonder in The Queen of Blood, and now the stakes are even higher as the threat to the Queen and her people grows both from within and beyond the borders of Aratay in this riveting second novel of the Queens of Renthia series.
About the Author
Sarah Beth Durst is the award-winning author of sixteen fantasy books for adults, teens, and kids, including The Queens of Renthia series, Drink Slay Love, and The Stone Girl’s Story. She won an ALA Alex Award and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, and has been a finalist for SFWA's Andre Norton Award three times. She is a graduate of Princeton University, where she spent four years studying English, writing about dragons, and wondering what the campus gargoyles would say if they could talk. Sarah lives in Stony Brook, New York, with her husband, her children, and her ill-mannered cat. For more information, visit her at sarahbethdurst.com.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A well executed sequel to The Queen of Blood.
After finishing The Reluctant Queen, I believe that The Queens of Renthia series is a hidden gem. This series is truly unique, both in its world-building and characters. The story itself is beautifully told, the world described so well that it came alive for me as I was reading. The Queen of Blood was more of a coming-of-age tale while The Reluctant Queen explores what it means to rule. At the beginning of this book, Daleina discovers that she is dying. After the events of the last book, she has no remaining heirs, which means that if she dies, the spirits will run amok and reap destruction and chaos in Aratay. In a race against time, Hamon desperately seeks a cure and Ven begins the search for Daleina's heir. As much as I liked the characters in the first book, this book is when I truly fell in love with them. Daleina is a young woman losing to a fatal illness but her first priority is always keeping her people safe. While there is a romance, she never allows it to distract her from her duties or obligations (I loved this in the first book and I'm so glad that it continued in this one). Hamon's love for his queen was both beautiful and heartbreaking. He does his best to help Daleina fulfill her role as Queen, always supporting her while he frantically seeks a cure. There's a wonderful subplot involving Hamon's mother, who, depending on the day, may or may not be an antagonist, and Daleina's sister. One of the most wonderful surprises about this book was the inclusion of Naelin. I honestly couldn't remember a time before this when I read a fantasy novel where one of the main characters was both older and a mother. Naelin is not a fighter and has been hiding her powers her entire life in an attempt to have a normal life. Her first thought is always for her children and how she can keep them safe. There were times that I laughed out loud at her children's antics or her interactions with Ven. Her storyline added significant depth to the book and served as a relatively light-hearted contrast to Daleina's story, despite dealing with difficult issues. The plot itself was a wild ride. It was entertaining, engaging, and fantastic. It took everything I loved from The Queen of Blood then added political intrigue, a country on the verge of falling apart, and more duplicity. This book explored the themes of family, duty, and love. There was one major villain throughout the book, which led to an intriguing mystery and some unexpected events. Additionally, the author didn't shy away from describing the aftermath of some of the horrible things that happened during this book. I really liked that she focused on the emotional state of the characters and their reactions during those scenes, it added a lot of emotional depth to the story. Reading this book was refreshing because it didn't feel like the same story had been recycled, it felt like something new. If you haven't read The Queens of Blood, I would highly recommend starting with that one since there are spoilers for that one in this book. But if you're a fan of fantasy, this series should definitely be on your radar. *Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review