Monday, December 5, 2011

The Fallen Queen - Jane Kindred


About the book

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.

Published on: December 6, 2011
Published by: Entangled Publishing
Author's website

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When I got the offer to review The Fallen Queen, I almost said no. I read the blurb and saw that it was about Heaven and angels and kind of rolled my eyes. If you can’t tell, I’m not big on books with huge religious overtones and talk of Heaven and angels smacks of religion. I decided to take a chance on it for no real reason other than I felt brave at the moment and now, looking back at it, I’m glad I did.

I was told Kindred’s writing style was reminiscent of Jacqueline Carey, and this comparison is probably what got me to read this book. While I can see similarities between the two, Kindred’s writing style is different enough to make her an individual though her graceful prose is suggestive Carey. Kindred’s writing is incredibly descriptive, which is needed when you realize how complex her world is.

In fact, her world is so complex that it might take some time for the reader to fully figure it all out. However, at the beginning of the book there are descriptions that will help the reader get a feel for it. Plan on having to flip back occasionally to sort out details as you read until you get a real solid handle on the world and the people who live in it.

Grand Duchess Anazakia, the main protagonist, does quite a bit of growing and developing within the pages of The Fallen Queen. She starts out as a rather self-absorbed and girlish and grows and matures in leaps and bounds as the book progresses. There is some romance in this book, though it’s probably not what you’d expect and while I did feel that the romance laden portions did slow the plot down a little, the book does recover from the slower middle section.

The Fallen Queen has alternating perspectives. The chapters told from Anazakia’s perspective is written in the first person and these chapters also read more lyrical and eloquent than the chapters told from other points of view (which are also told in third person). The flip side of this is that, while Anazakia’s chapters are more flowing, I felt as though the third person chapters were more fleshed out. Perspective doesn’t change mid-chapter, which makes the switch from first to third easier to deal with, however, it might still jar some readers.

Now, when I see a book which takes place in heaven, with angels, I automatically assume it’s going to have strong religious overtones and a hunky angel named Gabriel coming to save the day/woo the protagonist. The Fallen Queen isn’t like that at all. The angels aren’t what you’d expect them to be, neither are the demons and heaven is more like a parallel universe, of sorts, than anything else. There is no god, nor is there a hunky angel Gabriel. This “heaven” consists of different classes of people: the ruling class, and the poor and oppressed. Again, it might take time to figure out who is who and where they all come from, but it’s worth taking time to figure it out. Kindred has a pretty good setup for her races and many of them have interesting abilities, like demons who have the ability to control certain elements like fire, water or air, for example.

The portion of the book that takes place on our earth, takes place in Russia and this is, perhaps, the weakest part of the book. While the world is very well built and the characters never seem to falter in their development, the plot during this section of the book does seem to drag a bit, both for the earth happenings and the heaven happenings. Another problem is some of the believability is gone. As the plot slows down, the reader is given more time to examine some of the aspects and this may or may not prove to be a problem for some readers. For example, under closer examination, some of the antagonists are rather two-dimensional and their actions were rather transparent and predictable which I really didn’t notice until the plot slowed a little. These problems don’t ruin The Fallen Queen, but they do become much more obvious during the middle to last portion of the book.

When The Fallen Queen is stripped down to its roots, the plot isn’t really anything new. There’s a battle for power and the unexpected is forced to rise to the challenge. A plot like that can be found in any number of books, but Kindred unique flair, lyrical writing and complex world make it stand apart from the crowd. While I did feel that characterization and portions of the plot were rather weak, The Fallen Queen is well worth reading and the ending will leave readers yearning for the second installment in this series. The Fallen Queen is set to release on December 6.

3.5/5 stars

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