The Queen's Rising by Rebecca Ross

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Title: The Queen's Rising (The Queen's Rising #1)
Author: Rebecca Ross
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 464
Source: Bought
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Overall: 2 STARS

Grave Mercy meets Red Queen in this epic debut fantasy, inspired by Renaissance France, about an outcast who finds herself bound to a disgraced lord and entangled in his plot to overthrow the current king.

Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron. Growing up in Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her. While some are born with a talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she chose knowledge. However, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true—she is left without a patron. 

Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, she reluctantly accepts. But there is much more to his story, for there is a dangerous plot to overthrow the king of Maevana—the rival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the throne. And others are involved—some closer to Brienna than she realizes.

And now, with war brewing, Brienna must choose which side she will remain loyal to: passion or blood.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about Rebecca Ross's The Queen's Rising... I really wanted to fall in love with this YA fantasy debut. It seemed to check all my boxes: a beautiful cover, a premise involving overthrowing a corrupt king, a heroine who doesn't quite fit in, and more. The passions aspect didn't interest me as much, but I thought, "Oh well, I'll just go with it and hope for the best."

It took me over a MONTH to get through the first third of the book. Because the information we learn about the two different kingdoms of Valenia and Maevana is narrated to us like a school lesson, it became so dry and boring to read. I mean, yes, Brienna's passion is knowledge and she has a mixed heritage, so she's naturally curious about Maevana, but surely there could have been a more interesting way to learn about this fantasy world. And then there was all the pomp and ceremony for Brienna to find a patron, which we all knew she was going to fail, so it was more pages to slog through.

By now, you're probably wondering why I kept reading The Queen's Rising if it was taking so long to finish, but it's hard for me to give a DNF. What if the book gets better? And it did! Well, sort of. Once Brienna accepts her patron and departs from Magnolia House, the pace really began to pick up and the adventure begins. Brienna uses the memories of a family ancestor to seek out the Stone of Eventide, the key to restoring the throne to the rightful queen of Maevana. I loved how Brienna was strong-willed and courageous, learning how to defend herself and volunteering to take on a dangerous mission that would help her Maevan friends.

But while the beginning of the book was too slow for me, the second half of the book was much too fast. The Queen's Rising could've easily been split into another novel to really take its time to build up the tension and plan out the rebellion against the cruel King Lannon. There was nothing surprising that happened. Everything literally went according to plan! I kept waiting for that moment when I'd be shocked by a twist, for someone to make a mistake, but everything went so smoothly! I was swept into the excitement and danger of the looming final battle while reading the book, but looking back now, I feel let down that nothing truly memorable happened. 

(Oh, by the way, DO NOT read the family trees provided in the beginning of the book. It totally spoils the identity of Brienna's father... not that it's too hard to surmise later in the book anyways.)

As it stands, I'm really not sure why The Queen's Rising will be a trilogy because everything seemed to get wrapped up in this book... at least for Brienna's story. Maybe the sequel, The Queen's Resistance, will be told from another character's perspective?

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