I've read two other books by Anneliese Blakeney (otherwise known as Anne-girl) and I greatly enjoyed them (such an understatement), so when she announced that her newest book, Queen Mother, was available for anyone to read if they so desired, I snapped it up right away and read it from start to finish it just a couple of hours. It was great (although I still prefer her Selkin series, or at least what I've read of it, since nothing can really compare to those books) and I enjoyed it so much that I read it again (this may not seem like that big of a deal, but since I have an ever-growing list of books that I desperately want to read, re-reading isn't something I do lightly, especially if I've recently read the book in question). And now on to the actual review...
When the tiny princess goes missing in the labyrinth-like palace of Ence, the queen’s daughter by her first marriage sets out to find this unknown little sister, in hopes of gaining her mother’s love.
Let's start with the setting of the book before going on to my favorite part (the characters). The idea of a palace as big as the Ence one freaks me out just a little bit (the soldiers who went to search for the baby princess in the palace knew they'd starve and die because the palace is so incredibly huge). And the long hallway that Nicki runs down - the green one, with the little gold chairs - is positively scary. I would hate to be trapped in a place like that. On the up side, the blue room that the Rats live in is gorgeous. I can picture it in my mind's eye and I think it would be beautiful to actually see it. Why am I rambling about the Setting and the Palace? Because it's such a big part of the story, that I think it's important to give at least a little space to describing it. But now that I have, let's talk about the characters.
Oh, but before I do, I found a snippet on Anne's blog about the green hallway, so let me share it with you...
Suddenly I began to run. It was so quiet, so quiet! I couldn’t get away from the quietness. I was sobbing loudly, wildly but my noise only increased the stillness around me. I became acutely aware of my surroundings. Yet another hallway, this one painted green with little gold chairs every so often along the wall. There were no doors! I screamed. I was trapped in a hallway with no doors. It was so green. So very green. There were so many little gold chairs. They were grinning at me, taunting me because I couldn't find the doors. Nothing but green and gold and smiles and now there was laughter to. My laughter. I was laughing hysterically and the hunger inside of me roared and tried to get out. I pushed it down, frightened, and turned around suddenly knowing that the chairs were only chairs and that they could not smile. Then I fainted.
See what I mean? Anyway...back to the characters.
Nicki is the main character who narrates the whole book. I could really feel her struggle to gain her mother's love, as well as the pain when she was ignored and and wanting to fit in. And I also liked how she was so kind to The Mischief (more on him in a bit). Overall, I think she's a great heroine. She has her own unique voice and I was totally caught up in her trials and tribulations through the whole book. Next character...Souca. I have mixed feelings about Souca. One the one hand, I think she's odd, but I like how fiercely loyal she is to those she considers her friends and the way she says things and how she's really a mother to Nicki. As for the queen mother herself...now she's an interesting character. I always like back stories if they're done well and Maria's was really good. It actually took up quite a sizable chunk of the book which was nice, since I really liked reading it. In the end, I can't quite forgive her for what she did to John/The Mischief, but she does have a special place in my heart.
Of course, I have to have a favorite character, and let me tell you who it is. THE MISCHIEF. He was an absolute darling. I think the back story made me really, really like him, but the way he was scared of the Outside and he was an outcast just like so many others made me intrigued and more than a little sad for him. Honestly, I'd love it if Anne ever did a sequel or something that was about *SPOILERS* his and Souca's married life together, with Nicki. That would be awesome. *END OF SPOILERS* I also liked Neal a lot. He was so happy and cheerful and just...fun to read about. I really loved all the characters but he and The Mischief were probably my biggest favorites.
So there's my review on Queen Mother (sorry it took so long to get published, Anne). You can download a pdf of the book here, and I highly encourage you to do so. It's not an immensely long read, but it's one of my favorites.
Have you read Queen Mother? What did you think of my review?