Review: The Queen’s Choice

I received this book for free from YA Books Central in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Queen’s ChoiceThe Queen's Choice by Cayla Kluver
Series: Heirs of Chrior #1
Published by Harlequin Teen on January 28, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 512
Format: ARC
Source: YA Books Central
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three-stars

Magic was seeping out of me, black and agonizing. I could see it drifting away. The magic that would let me pass the Road to reach home again.

When sixteen-year-old Anya learns that her aunt, Queen of the Faerie Kingdom of Chrior, will soon die, her grief is equalled only by her despair for the future of the kingdom. Her young cousin, Illumina, is unfit to rule, and Anya is determined not to take up the queen's mantle herself.

Convinced that the only solution is to find Prince Zabriel, who long ago disappeared into the human realm of Warckum, and persuade him to take up his rightful crown, Anya journeys into the Warckum Territory to bring him home. But her journey is doomed to be more harrowing than she ever could have imagined.

Having really enjoyed Cayla Kluver’s Legacy trilogy, I was really curious about The Queen’s Choice. Still, I was hesitant. Faeries aren’t really my fantasy creature of choice and it sounded like it would be a paranormal romance, which tends to end poorly for me quite often. That The Queen’s Choice surprised me is an understatement. This is fantasy, straight up and jam-packed with world building. Kluver’s The Queen’s Choice takes a long time to find its stride, but the shocking ending has me ready for more.

Guys, I’m not going to lie to you: this book is SLOW. The first sixty pages are pretty engaging, but then from page 60 to somewhere around 350, the book languishes. That’s a lot of pages with just world building and writing to sustain the reader. I’m not a world building-driven reader, so, while I like it, if that’s ALL that’s happening, I’m getting bored. The plot starts out with a bang but then nothing much really happens with it for 300 pages. It’s rough to get through and there’s a lot that could have been trimmed from this set up or better integrated into the plot.

However, I’m glad I made it through all of that slowness, because, at the end, things get very dark and surprising. Essentially, Kluver’s ability to pull the rug out from under me as I read is the common factor in why I’ve really enjoyed her books. Authors who can do a twist that I’m not expecting and actually like are fairly few. The Queen’s Choice has a landscape of characters and motivations that is hard to parse, while being quite well done. Kluver loves to do terrible things to their feelings and, oh, I love that.

Seriously, the world building in this book is boss. I don’t think I’ve ever seen faeries done so intensely and without a romantic focus. The faeries and humans basically share the planet. Ages ago there was this war and the humans won, despite the fact that faeries can fly and connect to nature (they have elemental powers sort of like they’re benders from Avatar, but not quite). The faeries, in an effort to save their people, used magic to seal the border to their diminished lands. Humans cannot enter Chrior, the faerie kingdom, because anyone without magic who tries to cross the Bloody Road will die.

Humans and faeries mistrust and hate one another, both believing the other to be lesser. The xenophobia between these cultures is the main theme of the novel. Anyway, in power in both the human kingdom and the faerie one are rulers who want to promote friendship between the two nations. However, the Queen is dying and her son is missing, leaving a niece who hates humans next in line for succession. In both the human world and the faerie world, forces are fighting both for and against unification. It is a time of strife, my friends.

The characters, much like the plot, take a backseat to the world building for a long time. However, by the end, I was pretty interested in what Anya was up to. The scene stealer is definitely the missing Prince Zabriel and the adorable cop, Tom Matlock (this name, though, what is up with it?). Some things that I like about the characterization of The Queen’s Choice: first impressions are often deceiving, everyone has complex motivations, and there are a lot of powerful women. Oh, it also had some hints of being sex-positive.

When I think Harlequin, I generally expect that romance will be a factor, but The Queen’s Choice falls into the diversification of the Harlequin label. There is some romance in here, but not enough that I would even call it a theme. There are just a couple of scenes and they in no way define anyone. Romance was pretty crucial in the Legacy trilogy, so this is a big departure from what happened before.

The Queen’s Choice is fantasy done right, albeit with a LOT of detail. Readers who really appreciate world building will definitely want to check this one out. Patient readers will probably end up finding this one worthwhile, even if world building isn’t your favorite aspect of novels.

Favorite Quote:

“How ’bout a kiss, missy?” he chortled, as though he were perfectly within his rights to be holding her. “Then we’ll see where the evenin’ takes us.”

I went for the long-knife, wondering about The Paladin’s policies on killing its customers, but before I could make any other move, Shea slammed the heel of her boot down on the man’s foot. He let go of her, yowling in pain.

“Call that the climax of our evening,” she seethed, backing away.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

I was conflicted, but I am now sure that I liked this. Boulder approves.

I was conflicted, but I am now sure that I liked this. Boulder approves.

10 responses to “Review: The Queen’s Choice”

  1. 300 pages where nothing happens to the plot? That’s too much for me. I really appreciate world building in books and especially in fantasy, but I need at least a little bit of plot action going on as well. Also, I’m SO not a patient reader! I don’t think this might be a book for me, I just know I’ll end up annoyed by the middle part. Too bad 🙁 I was interested because of the faerie creatures, as I have read only a few books with those kind of creatures, but I think I’m going to pass this one.
    Kim @ The Nomadic Book Hoarder recently posted…End of Year Book SurveyMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Thankfully I’m fairly patient with high fantasy, because that many pages of set up isn’t really that uncommon, but my ratings for the first books in those series tend to be middling for that reason, but they often get so good after that!

  2. It being slow doesn’t surprise me. When I read Legacy, I remember it being bogged down by details and how little happens over so long a period of time. You DO make the worldbuilding sound pretty awesome, but I think I’ll pass on The Queen’s Choice. My loyal gut says I’d just get snarky with it and I prefer to come across those sorts of books on accident, not on purpose. Or by chance, as seen with Gillian being a great, big jerk. AND YOU, FOR THAT MATTER, PUTTING IN TEARDROP LIKE THAT.

  3. Kayla Beck says:

    Since world-building is completely and utterly my thing, I added this one to my TBR. I had looked at it before, but my pile of books is so big that I had to make a rule regarding fantasy novels I’m iffy about – if there’s a name that irritates me or I wouldn’t know how to pronounce it, scratch it. (Chrior and Warckum irritate me.) But I’ll add it now.
    Kayla Beck recently posted…Review: Everneath by Brodi AshtonMy Profile

  4. Bonnie says:

    Interesting… I had completely written this one off but I may have to check it out. Fantasy isn’t usually my thing but this one sounds pretty good! The slowness is discouraging though. World-building is totally my thing though. Someday!
    Bonnie recently posted…Book Review – Fortune’s Pawn (Paradox #1) by Rachel BachMy Profile

  5. Oooh! I generally avoid Harlequin books because I can’t stand the romance, but if this one keeps it to a minimum…

    And heeeeeeey there, character named… No, wait, you spell it wrong, character named Shea. I am not a butter, but you apparently are. Goodbye.
    Shae/Shelver @ Shae Has Left The Room recently posted…Review: AVALON by Mindee ArnettMy Profile

  6. Lyn Kaye says:

    YES! I am so stoked about this release! I’m so happy about the warning about the snail-pace slowness!
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Book Review: Uninvited by Sophie JordanMy Profile

  7. Gillian says:

    Ooooo, I want to give this a shot. While I generally prefer my books with romance, I’m usually wary of Harlequin ones, so the fact that this one is light to nonexistent might be nice. I believe I can handle the slowness for some fantasy awesomeness.

    Also, the quote is amazing.
    Gillian recently posted…Review: And We Stay by Jenny HubbardMy Profile

  8. I like a book with much and interesting world-building, so it doesn’t sound too bad for me 🙂 I’ve read many books over time that needed some patience, I think I can handle it with this one too. I always appreciate fantasy books and this one is definitely on my wish list. I’m very happy that this book stayed away from too much romance, since that’s something I almost never enjoy.
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Top 10 Tuesday 30.My Profile

  9. […] “The Queen’s Choice is fantasy done right, albeit with a LOT of detail. Readers who really appreciate world building will definitely want to check this one out. Patient readers will probably end up finding this one worthwhile, even if world building isn’t your favorite aspect of novels.” – A Reader of Fictions […]

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