The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst
Rating: 4 Stars
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Genre: YA Fantasy
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 … (continue reading)
I honestly didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did! It was such a pleasant surprise, though, and I can’t wait to read the sequel, which sounds like it will be even better!
7 Things About The Queen of Blood
1) This is one of the most unique YA fantasies I’ve read in a really long time! Yeah, this book has the same kind of plot structure that a lot of YA fantasies do: hero has a goal/quest, works towards it, meets friends, etc. But, somehow, because of the characters and setting and just the idea, this book manages to be completely original.
2) The characters were all fantastic. I really, really loved Daleina. She’s so kind, and I love how hard she works. Unlike a lot of YA heroines, Daleina isn’t perfect. In fact, she constantly fails. over and over again!! But, she never gives up on her goals, and all her hard work means something in the end. I also loved all the friendships and relationships between the characters. In this book, the girls are all competing at a magical boarding school to become the next queen. But, even though obviously there can only be one queen, the girls are nice!! They’re friends! There’s no girl hate, and no passive aggressive cruelty!! It was fantastic. I also loved Daleina’s relationship with her family, and how she learns more about that relationship throughout the book. I liked how there were multiple POVs that were all relevant to the story. There were several chapters from the Queen’s POV, a bunch from Daleina’s headmaster and trainer, and most were from Daleina. These POVs made it possible for there to be a very interesting romance between two very interesting people. Other than that very interesting side romance, there wasn’t any real romance, except for just the tiniest hint of it towards the end. I love romance in books, but sometimes it’s refreshing to have a break from it in books! Oh, and there’s a super mysterious vanished friend who I can’t wait to see more of in the next book.
3) The world, idea, and setting are stunning. The world of this book consists of villages made out of trees, water, fire, air, and forest spirits that are super cool, and a queen who has to control them and keep the spirits from killing everyone. The whole idea of the nature spirits was amazing. I LOVED the way the spirits were described. There were lots of different kinds, and the fact that they are always threatening to kill you made the book tense; there was always the feeling that the characters were not quite safe. And they were most definitely not. Also, the worldbuilding was extremely thorough and creative.
4) This is a “magical boarding school” type book. I actually don’t like magical boarding school type books that much (you should all have an idea or my hatred of Harry Potter by now) so while I thought the first 70% of this book was really good, it wasn’t until the last 30% that I thought it was great. But if you like magical boarding school type books, my guess is you’d love this even more!
5) This book does an amazing job at showing the sacrifices that must be made to achieve goals. Daleina sacrifices the standard things like sleep to study, but she also has to leave her family to go to school to train to be an heir and hopefully become queen so she can protect her world. This has consequences that Durst shows expertly; Daleina loses her close relationship with her parents and sister, and she sacrifices pursuing other possible dreams to work towards her very noble goal of protecting her world. I loved how inspirational this aspect of Daleina and her story was; how she refused to give up in working towards what she believes is right, even though she kept failing, and even though it was hard.
6) There is a super cool villain in this book. AGHHHGGH I loved her so much. I think the reason I loved the villain in this book so much is because 1) she’s not actually evil, or at least she doesn’t think she is, and this is made more true because 2) her line of thinking made perfect sense, which was slightly disturbing, but it made me sympathize with and understand her, and 3) we get to spend some time in her head and see her spiral. It was cool. I LOVE villains like this!!
7) This book is technically YA, but it could definitely cross over into Adult fantasy too. Some of the characters are older, and all were very mature. I can totally see Adult Fantasy readers really enjoying this! Oh, and while this book is technically part of a series, it works just as well as a standalone!
This was so good, and I cannot WAIT for the sequel. I never say that, you guys.
What’s a book you read recently that surprised you? Good or bad? What’s one thing that you think makes a book unique? What is one thing you really admire in a main character? Also, do you like this new review format or my old way better?