REVIEW: Fallen Queen by Jane Kindred
Heaven can go to hell. Until her cousin slaughtered the supernal family, Anazakia’s father ruled the Heavens, governing noble Host and Fallen peasants alike. Now Anazakia is the last grand duchess of the House of Arkhangel’sk, and all she wants is to stay alive. Hunted by Seraph assassins, Anazakia flees Heaven with two Fallen thieves—fire demon Vasily and air demon Belphagor, each with their own nefarious agenda—who hide her in the world of Man. The line between vice and virtue soon blurs, and when Belphagor is imprisoned, the unexpected passion of Vasily warms her through the Russian winter. Heaven seems a distant dream, but when Anazakia learns the truth behind the celestial coup, she will have to return to fight for the throne—even if it means saving the man who murdered everyone she loved.”
When I was offered the chance to receive an ARC of The Fallen Queen by Jane Kindred I immediately jumped on the opportunity. The excerpt intrigued me immensely and I couldn’t wait to get started on the book. Kindred has taken the real life events of Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia, which always fascinated me as a child, and mirrored them in her mythical world of heaven. The heavenly realm Kindred creates follows the Russian landscape including castles that are identical and the names of Anazakia’s family members and when we travel to earth it is Russia we find the fallen in. I felt the book started off a bit slow and at first I had a hard time following what was going on. I think part of this is due to the fact that Kindred created an entire new world for her backdrop and it takes a little time to set up such a grand stage. Once Anazakia is on earth with Belphagor and Vasily the book pace picks up and I began to enjoy the book.
We meet Anazakia in heaven as a selfish seventeen year old who has been sheltered all her life and watch her grow into being a future leader. Anazakia’s life is full of fun and frivolity where she utilizes peasant magic to divide her essence allowing her to be in two places at one time. This way she can partake in the adventures that she wants to participate in while she has another self to be at the events she is supposed to be in. The assassination of her entire family shatters her frivolity and forces Anazakia to grow up and learn the truth of things she had been sheltered from for so long.
I really enjoyed how Kindred uses this new world to tackle a few taboos and issues that we deal with right now. She explores the disdain a society has for children of mixed blood and how they are treated, the complexity of real relationships and what it’s like to live in a society as the “fallen” who have been shunned. This brought more depth to the book and it is interesting to watch as Anazakia begins to learn the lessons that those she can trust are not the ones she expected and safety is found with an unexpected motley group. Overall the book is full of excitement, adventure and political power plays, deception and friendship. It was an exciting story to watch unfold.
The book does have an element of magic and myth in it which is subtle throughout most of the book. I found myself wishing there was a little bit more explanation of the prophecies regarding Anazakia. The use of elemental magic is quite interesting as well and I get the sense that Anazakia is more powerful than she realizes at this point. I was frustrated by Anazakia’s lack of knowledge regarding elemental magic. I wanted to know more and learn how things fit together. I hope there are more books planned to follow up after the ending of this one because I have so many questions I still want answered regarding Anazakia and Ola’s prophecy as well as the elemental magic that they both yield. I want to learn more of Vasily, I feel he has more power than he realizes at this point too. In all there is so much I still want to know it is a bit frustrating but I felt the book ended on a perfect note and it was a wonderful adventure to undergo. For a moment all is safe but trouble will come on the horizon and our characters will need to face it. I just hope Kindred is planning on writing that chapter in our characters’ lives so we can see how they rise to the challenge.