Review: The Queen of Blood

by - 9:26 AM

| ISBN: 9780062413345 | Pages: 353 |
Publication Date: September 10, 2016 | Source: Library
| Rating: 4 out of 5 stars |

An idealistic young student and a banished warrior become allies in a battle to save their realm in this first book of a mesmerizing epic fantasy series, filled with political intrigue, violent magic, malevolent spirits, and thrilling adventure
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 . . .
But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to prevent the spirits from destroying every man, woman, and child. But queens are still just human, and no matter how strong or good, the threat of danger always looms. 
With the position so precarious, young women are chosen to train as heirs. Daleina, a seemingly quiet academy student, is under no illusions as to her claim to the throne, but simply wants to right the wrongs that have befallen the land. Ven, a disgraced champion, has spent his exile secretly fighting against the growing number of spirit attacks. Joining forces, these daring partners embark on a treacherous quest to find the source of the spirits’ restlessness—a journey that will test their courage and trust, and force them to stand against both enemies and friends to save their land . . . before it’s bathed in blood.
This book is absolutely crazy in the best possible way. Before I get into the review, the sequel to this book - The Reluctant Queen releases today so if this sounds like something you'd be interested in, you can marathon the first two books of the trilogy starting today! 

I've been craving fantasy lately since I realized I didn't read a ton of high fantasy stories this year so when I saw this on the shelves of my library I was immediately intrigued. The summary itself weaves together a pretty ruthless world where elemental spirits have an innate desire to kill humans. The only thing that is preventing them from doing so is the queen, who has the power to command the spirits in an attempt to create peace.

“Whether you made your choices with your eyes open or closed, they’re made. It’s not time to regret them; it’s time to live with the consequences.” 

The entire premise of the story is fascinating - I mean, where else do you get blood thirsty elemental spirits? One of my favorite things from the start was the imagery of houses woven into the branches of trees because it just sounds so beautiful but there's this understanding of how dangerous the people's lives are as they live alongside the spirits that want to kill them. 

"Two chances to make this all worthwhile, to prove she could do this, to have the opportunity to do something real with her power, not just practice and study."

Our main character Daleina finds out about her ability to commands the spirits when her entire village is slaughtered and she joins an academy designed to train girls to becoming heirs for the queen. Since the queen is still human, the moment she dies, the spirits are released from their command to "do no harm" and must choose a new queen from one the heirs otherwise chaos will erupt. 

"You believed in me when you chose me. You believed in me when I was blind. Believe in me again now."

So Daleina joins this academy but she quickly finds out that she doesn't belong. Unlike many stories that have a similar plot with a ruthless world and the fight to become queen, Daleina isn't some special snowflake who can command spirits to her every will. Instead, she barely manages to pass the physical aspect of her training and rather pushes herself academically to pass her courses.

"In the stillness of the forest, there was a kind of beautiful simplicity. You could be alone without fear, and so Daleina was."

As you can imagine, life at the academy is not the most pleasant experience and Sarah Beth Durst creates so many beautiful and amazing female friendships that spawn from hardship, fear, and determination. All the girls at the academy become each other's family as they face what the rest the kingdom cowers from because they have the chance to protect the people they love. I really appreciated all the different relationships throughout the story and how everything was focused the final goal.

This is getting a bit long but I feel like I still have so many things I want to say. The Queen of Blood is amazing - sometimes it's empowering, sometimes it's discouraging, and sometimes it's just outright bloody but that's what makes it so good. Needless to say, I am very excited for The Reluctant Queen because after that whirlwind of an ending (which I reread 3x because I was in shock) I need to be back in the world of Aratay.

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