I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Freya is twenty-third in line to the throne, so she’s never meant to be queen. Until a mass murder at a feast leaves her on the throne. The question is, who is responsible for the murders, and are they angry they missed Freya? Will they come after her? And how can she make being queen a success and help her downtrodden people
I absolutely adored this plot. There is no fantasy or magic in this book, just alternate-world historical fiction with a heroine who’d rather lose herself in science experiments than socialise with the wicked nobility of the court. She is woefully unprepared to be queen and at first everyone pushes her around and tells her what to do. It isn’t until she starts questioning tradition and shaking up the status quo that she really comes into being a real queen and oh my god YAS she won my heart over many times. More interested in science than romance, I’d heard a rumour she was actually asexual. This isn’t true, and there is a dash of romance, but by far the plot revolves around the politics of crowning a new, young, female monarch, and Freya’s own investigation into the mass murder. I had recently been watching The Crown on Netflix, which is based in Queen Elizabeth II’s life, and I found a lot of similarities between the two stories. If you like one, you’re bound to enjoy the other.
Probably the only thing I didn’t like was the result of who ended up getting the blame for the murders. To me it was’t that character’s fault that things turned out they way they did, even if they intended it that way. It was another character’s actions that actually ensured everyone died, but no one even thought of blaming that character. To me it seemed more like shooting the messenger, similar to who got the blame for a beloved character’s death in Mockingjay: clearly they were not directly responsible, but they got the blame anyway.
Like I said above, I adored Freya as a character who is too busy not being a complete nitwit or overcome with lust to focus on boys. A dash of romance is ok, and it’s especially ok when you’re falling for someone who might be an enemy… oh the angst! But I loved the politics involved in the shake-up of the new untried, untested, uneducated monarch and the fact that some people suspected HER of being the murderer! It was fascinating to read. I also loved that Freya had a cat she clearly adored, but who favoured her close friend Naomi instead.
Speaking of friends, Freya’s little gang of confidants was awesome. I loved Naomi’s unending loyalty, and the two relationships developed between possible suspects Madeleine, Freya’s heir and would-be-queen if not for Freya’s survival, and Fitzroy, the king’s bastard son and therefore not eligible for the throne, were so well-written I ended up adoring both of them.
I think the because the book focused a lot on politics and Freya’s appearances as queen and stuff like learning speeches and defying tradition as well as plenty of science experiments to determine how everyone was murdered on the way to whom and why, some people might find this book lacking a little in action and pacing. I took a while to finish the book but that was because of personal circumstances. The opening chapters were amazing, showcasing Freya as strong and independent, with a strong female friendship, a cute cat, and something better to do than sit around at a boring feast. My favourite part of the whole book was when Freya finally realised the power she had inherited as queen, and that she had a duty to run her country and look after her people, and not just solve the murder. My other favourite parts were watching the team stop and think and change their hypothesis on their murder investigation when presented with proof and facts.
Overall I adored this novel. It was really refreshing to read a YA book that was so almost fantasy but not, that really measured its use of romance, that showcased such a wonderfully rounded character as Freya, with all her ideals and beliefs and willingness to break tradition. The supporting characters were also really entertaining to read about, especially the two rivals to the throne who ended up being Freya’s closest friends. The murder mystery ran throughout the entire novel, and although I was ultimately unhappy with who go the blame, I think I can see what the author was trying to get at. I just don’t really believe in shooting the messenger. I believe this is a stand-alone novel, but if it were to get a sequel I would happily read it