I have been on a backlist book kick for 2022. As such, it’s not surprising that The Vanished Queen by Lisbeth Campbell made it onto my list of books to read this year. To be honest, I knew nothing about the book when I first bought it. Instead, I was completely entranced by the gorgeous cover.
I’m happy to say that the story within is just as gorgeous. If you don’t mind the blood, that is.
Publisher: Saga Press | Release Date: August 2020 | Pages: 496
Age Range: Adult | Genre: Fantasy | Format: Hardcover | Source: Bought
When a country is held in thrall to a vicious, despotic king, it’s up to one woman to take him down.
Long ago, Queen Mirantha vanished. King Karolje claimed it was an assassination by a neighboring king, but everyone knew it was a lie. He had Disappeared her himself.
But after finding the missing queen’s diary, Anza—impassioned by her father’s unjust execution and inspired by Mirantha’s words—joins the resistance group to overthrow the king. When an encounter with Prince Esvar thrusts her into a dangerous game of court politics, one misstep could lead to a fate worse than death.
Esvar is the second son to an evil king. Trapped under his thumb and desperate for a way out, a chance meeting with Anza gives him the opportunity to join the resistance. Together, they might have the leverage to move against the king—but if they fail, their deaths could mean a total loss of freedom for generations to follow.
On the Page
- Abuse (emotional and physical)
- Beating (flogging and torture)
- Captivity and confinement
- Death (of a parent and a friend)
- Disappearance of a loved one
- Murder and attempted murder
- Physical injuries
- Poverty themes
- Hanging (threatened)
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: Like I mentioned in my intro, I wanted the writing to be as gorgeous as the cover. And wow, was it.
- Choice of organization: So, we get this from both a multi-POV perspective (focusing mainly on Anza and Esva) and two timelines. The third POV is from the vanished queen Mirantha, describing events from the past in first-person POV. I thought this was expertly done and the perfect way to tell this story.
- Strong female characters: Not only to we have multiple strong female characters, we also get a range of them. From battle hardened and experienced to scared yet determined, it was so amazing to read.
- I guessed the twist: Granted, I think it was set up so it wasn’t meant to be a huge shock to the reader, but still. I never guess the twists to anything, so this was a refreshing change! 😅
- I didn’t really have any! I strongly enjoyed this book and I really hope Campbell publishes more, one day!
The Vanished Queen got close to scratching the itch I’ve had in me since reading The Councillor by E.J. Beaton: more political fantasy dripping with intrigue, with complex dynamics, characters and situations that leave you breathless in wanting to know what happens next. Though my first foray into Lisbeth Campbell’s work, I truly hope it will not be my last. I thoroughly enjoyed it!