Last Updated on December 20, 2022 by ThoughtsStained
Once again, it was the cover gods who ensnared me. I mean, just look at the cover for Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callender. It’s absolutely gorgeous. Unfortunately, the book itself, while powerful, also didn’t capture me entirely. It may be a very different experience for other readers, though. Especially since, overarchingly, I found more aspects I enjoyed than I didn’t.
An ARC copy was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Publisher: Orbit Books | Release Date: November 2019 | Pages: 400
Age Range: Adult | Genre: Fantasy | Format: Paperback | Source: ARC
An ambitious young woman with the power to control minds seeks vengeance against the royals who murdered her family, in a Caribbean-inspired fantasy world embattled by colonial oppression.
Sigourney Rose is the only surviving daughter of a noble lineage on the islands of Hans Lollik. When she was a child, her family was murdered by the islands’ colonizers, who have massacred and enslaved generations of her people—and now, Sigourney is ready to exact her revenge.
When the childless king of the islands declares that he will choose his successor from amongst eligible noble families, Sigourney uses her ability to read and control minds to manipulate her way onto the royal island and into the ranks of the ruling colonizers. But when she arrives, prepared to fight for control of all the islands, Sigourney finds herself the target of a dangerous, unknown magic.
Someone is killing off the ruling families to clear a path to the throne. As the bodies pile up and all eyes regard her with suspicion, Sigourney must find allies among her prey and the murderer among her peers… lest she become the next victim.
On the Page
Content warnings are written up by me, unless specified. Subject to being an incomplete list, though guided by referencing this list and trying to highlight as many as I can identify.
- The writing itself. I couldn’t get over how beautifully this was written. It has a lyricalness about it that was captivating. A stark contrast to the often brutal, intense and heart wrenching topics this book depicted.
- The complexity of emotion. This is a very complex book in terms of subject matter. It shows a complex character in Sigourney and her position within the kongelig, yet coming from slave origins and being the only Black member. My heart continually broke under the waves of hatred that Sigourney felt. Especially how this was detailed, as I could both empathize her position AND see why slaves hated her (fuck the kongelig, though).
- The mystery elements. In the latter half of the book, there were elements of mystery that I really enjoyed. I sort wish I could have seen throughout the entire book!
- Sigourney’s kraft. I thought this was not only an amazing magic system in the kraft, but Sigourney’s kraft, in particular, was really fascinating. The way Callender wrote about Sigourney’s insight into others by taking over or invading their mind was masterful.
- The ending. I was floored.
Perhaps I’m an idiot, but I absolutely did not pick up any of those pieces that were revealed at the end. It made the ending that much more impactful for me.
- The pacing. This book felt very slow to me. One of the main reasons it took me over a month to read it. I felt akin to Marieke in just wanting Sigourney to do something. And, in some ways, some of the information was repetitive, emphasizing the slow pace.
I enjoyed Queen of the Conquered. But I didn’t completely fall in love with it, despite finding much more that I enjoyed in this book than what I didn’t. Worse, as time went out, I found myself actually losing interest in the duology, so I do not plan to complete it.