Title: The Seventh Queen (Warrior Witch Duology #2)
Author: Greta Kelly
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publication date: November 2, 2021
One Sentence Summary: Askia has been captured by her enemy, Radovan, and is destined for death, but, in the 30 days she has left, she’s determined to make him fall and find a way out.
The Seventh Queen is the second half of the Warrior Witch Duology, so it follows on the heels of The Frozen Crown. Askia has been taken from Vishir to the cold, Northern court of Radovan, a powerful man intent on draining her magic from her before killing her. But Askia is determined to escape, or at least sow discontent in his court, with the help of the ghosts of his former queens. I couldn’t help feeling a little confused by this duology. The cliffhanger at the end of the first book made me think it was a whole book split in two. But, after reading the second book, it felt more like it was the opposite of the first book and there wasn’t much linking the two except Askia. Overall, though, I think I liked the second one better, especially since Askia felt like she matured, though I also found the court intrigue a little boring.
Askia has been taken from Vishir and imprisoned in Roven by her enemy, Radovan. In thirty days, her magic will have been drained into an Aellium stone she is forced to wear and cannot remove, and then Radovan will kill her to take her magic. With the six queens who came before her on her side, Askia is determined to escape, and will use their spirits in any way she can to turn Radovan’s court on its head. Radovan, though, hasn’t lived an improbable number of years without taking a few precautions and having an understanding of the people he rules and seeks to rule.
The Seventh Queen picks up immediately after the events of The Frozen Crown. I wasn’t a big fan of the first book, but, with the major cliffhanger at the end, I was left feeling like I’d only been given half the story, and I do not like to not finish a story. Fortunately, I did like the change of scenery and Askia wasn’t quite as annoying. The romance was also dialed way back, making it easier to read and making Askia as queen shine in a way she couldn’t before when every man seemed to want her.
Where The Frozen Crown was set in the warm, sun-drenched Vishir Empire, The Seventh Queen is set far to north in snowy, freezing Roven. I really enjoyed how all the snow and cold, especially as winter sweeps across the land, played a big part in the story and how the characters were affected. It felt delightfully chilly and was a great counterpoint in every way to the court of the first book. It did, though, feel too stereotypically European and too much of it recalled the real world to me. Though it was nice to get to know bits and pieces of the conquered kingdoms through the deceased queens.
While both books involved court intrigue, I think The Seventh Queen did it much better. That might have to do with the fact that there was almost no romance in this book to obscure the intrigue. It was front and center since Askia is looking for any way possible out of her situation. The fact that she only has thirty days helps heighten her desperation and makes her more reckless, so she’s more than willing to help sow discontent within the already terrified nobility. I did feel she was overly reliant on the deceased queens, but it was fun to watch her play the game. As much as she claimed to not enjoy it, she carried it off well, and I quite preferred this version of Askia.
In the first book, Askia felt very young and hotheaded. The Seventh Queen sees her cooled off considerably, which made her seem more thoughtful and mature. Her life is on the line and she expects to be executed, but, in the time she has left, she’ll try her hardest to either get away or divide Radovan’s court as much as she can. With so much at stake, she needs to be cold and in control. I did tire of her constantly saying how playing the game made her insides twist and that that wasn’t her, but I felt it really suited her. She was most interesting to me when she played the game and left the hot headed girl behind. Of course, I don’t mean to say she only felt grown up because she was manipulative, but it made her more thoughtful and strategic, which really helped when the last third of the book hit. Mostly, I liked how she wasn’t falling into romance and dealing with so many men who loved her. It helped me to focus on the actual story at hand instead of her constant thoughts of how much she did or didn’t like this man or that.
Despite the growth by leaps and bounds that Askia seems to make, there isn’t actually much happening for most of the book. Since it’s centered around Radovan’s court, it mostly focused on the court intrigue and Askia constantly sending this ghost or that ghost out to obtain information for her to use. The Seventh Queen, though, did have a couple of odd chapters from another character’s perspective and, while it did have some useful information, I still struggle to understand why they were included. They felt longer than necessary and I think a bit of information obtained in one of those chapters would have been better left as a surprise later on. Overall, it wasn’t exactly an entertaining read unless, perhaps, you enjoy a lot of court intrigue. Instead, I wish the story had been expanded as I was dying to know what was going on in Vishir since the first book was set there and the reader had a chance to get comfortable with it. It definitely left me feeling wanting.
I had hoped that the ghosts of Radovan’s previous wives would have been interesting. But they all seemed to have only one personality to call their own. While they were unique and different from each other, they themselves didn’t really vary. I guess that’s to be expected of ghosts, but they seemed less constrained by death than I had expected, so wanted a bit more from them. Radovan, on the other hand, was quite interesting. While he was consistent, he kind of also blew all over the place. It was difficult to tell whether he’d be amused by something or not. I felt he created the most tension and I wanted to keep reading to see what he would do.
The Seventh Queen did and didn’t feel like the second half of a book. In a way it did feel like a continuation of the story instead of a second book in the duology. In another, it felt like the flip side of the first book. The series felt too neatly split between two different countries, climates, and courts. It was annoying to me how it highlighted the differences, but I did like that the second court forced Askia to grow up.
Overall, I found The Seventh Queen to be more interesting than the first book and it managed to feel a little less YA to me, but it was weird in how it felt like the second half of a single book and like the polar opposite of The Frozen Crown. I did like Askia’s growth and how minimal the romance was, but also felt kind of bored by more than half of the story.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.
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