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.Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas
Published by HarperTeen on February 21st 2017
Buy on Amazon, B&N, iBooks, GooglePlay, Kobo, BAM, Book Depository, Publisher
The Girl of Fire and Thorns meets The Queen of the Tearling in this thrilling fantasy standalone about one girl’s unexpected rise to power.
Freya was never meant be queen. Twenty third in line to the throne, she never dreamed of a life in the palace, and would much rather research in her laboratory than participate in the intrigues of court. However, when an extravagant banquet turns deadly and the king and those closest to him are poisoned, Freya suddenly finds herself on the throne.
Freya may have escaped the massacre, but she is far from safe. The nobles don’t respect her, her councillors want to control her, and with the mystery of who killed the king still unsolved, Freya knows that a single mistake could cost her the kingdom – and her life.
Freya is determined to survive, and that means uncovering the murderers herself. Until then, she can’t trust anyone. Not her advisors. Not the king’s dashing and enigmatic illegitimate son. Not even her own father, who always wanted the best for her, but also wanted more power for himself.
As Freya’s enemies close in and her loyalties are tested, she must decide if she is ready to rule and, if so, how far she is willing to go to keep the crown.
Long May She Reign is about a girl with crippling social anxiety who becomes queen. In an effort to handle the social pressures and constant presence of being queen, this girl obsesses over the question why. Why is she the one in line to have survived the massacre? Why would anyone massacre the king? And why doesn’t anyone want to figure out who actually poisoned everyone?
Freya doubts those around her, herself and the core morality of the court over which she is now reigning monarch. She struggles to change the injustice of her world, to overcome her preconceptions of the courtiers, and over come her anxiety spells. Pretty heavy stuff, all in all.
Going into Long May She Reign I was cautious. I wasn’t sure what to expect: a girl who is 23rd in line for the throne ends up Queen? Mass murder? I was honestly expecting magic and all the jazz that come with modern fantasy, but was delighted to end up with an non-magic fantasy novel with plenty of court politics and sketchy advisors. Long May She Reign is a plain fantasy novel with a who-dun-it twist which is obviously written for a younger generation. I am a bit biased in my desire for less magic and more gritty “by hand” work when it comes to fantasy – so this portion of this novel was a definite win for me.
I feel like this novel is really going to be one of those titles that people either love or feel supremely “meh” about. I mean, Thomas has incorporated all the makings of a great novel: a believable main character, a stalwart best friend, an unlikely romance, some seriously scary circumstances and court politics..but in the end not a whole lot happened in this novel. Freya isn’t present for the mass poisoning of the entire court, the mystery takes forever to solve with far too many unrelated events interspersed and Freya herself is far too much of an introvert to be an enthralling major player.
Unfortunately, Freya is the type of person who spends a lot of time self-doubting and struggling confidence issues that sound more like an abused teenager than a spoiled court inhabitant. Her inner dialogue often detracted from the story for me and her social anxiety meant she wasn’t present or focused enough for huge scenes to be really portrayed in the best light/detail. However, I feel it’s important I point out I do not suffer from social anxiety or generalized anxiety so I cannot really understand what Freya’s experiences were like for her.
I felt like Long May She Reign is a YA novel written for older teens coming of age and dealing with issues of self identity and changing roles in life’s own version of the court. Personally, this novel would have resonated strongly with me around that age. In addition, I feel like this novel is going to be huge hit with the young adult fantasy community because it meets all the expectations for a hard core, but contemporary-feeling fantasy novel. If you like this book, that’s wonderful, but for myself personally (and this is an entirely personal feeling), Long May She Reign was not memorable and probably won’t make any lists for the year. Sorry.
Long May She Reign is a fun fantasy novel, void of magic, with an alluring murder mystery at it’s core. A dash of scientific curiosity and a clever best friend..and an adorably feisty feline..make up a cast of interesting core characters who suss out the bad guy and save the day.
Finally, I feel like its important to point out Long May She Reign is a fantasy novel with a not-so-hidden-meaning. The entire novel is about over coming social anxiety and learning to control it. Freya begins the novel with the inability to even sit at a banquet with all of court, but ends the novel able to lead an army to victory in a very theatrical way – a huge leap forward for a girl with crippling social anxiety. In the end, I think the best part of this novel (other than the cat!) was the slow evolution of Freya: terrified girl to strong leader. In a way, this is a wonderful story about facing your fears – even if the action sequences are a little far and few between.
This novel will appeal to readers who enjoy fantasy without magic, political intrigue, and who-dun-it mysteries. This is a novel that is most definitely written for teens and hard core fantasy readers who want a light, but interesting read or for readers who want a novel that focuses on overcoming social anxiety in the face of extreme circumstances.