Saturday, January 4, 2014

Early Review: The Queen's Choice (Heirs of Chrior #1) by Cayla Kluver

Release Date: January 28, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: NetGalley
Author Links: Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Magic was seeping out of me, black and agonizing. I could see it drifting away. The magic that would let me pass the Road to reach home again.

When sixteen-year-old Anya learns that her aunt, Queen of the Faerie Kingdom of Chrior, will soon die, her grief is equaled only by her despair for the future of the kingdom. Her young cousin, Illumina, is unfit to rule, and Anya is determined not to take up the queen's mantle herself.

Convinced that the only solution is to find Prince Zabriel, who long ago disappeared into the human realm of Warckum, and persuade him to take up his rightful crown, Anya journeys into the Warckum Territory to bring him home. But her journey is doomed to be more harrowing than she ever could have imagined….

Honestly, the first few chapters of this were pretty meh. Or at least they were to me.  It definitely slides toward adventure on the action-adventure scale. By that I mean the plot doesn't move at a break-neck pace. It's more of a story about the journey Anya takes, and the pacing reflects that.
I'm not saying The Queen's Choice was boring by any means, and once I got a feel for what was happening I really enjoyed it.

The story starts with Anya coming home to Chrior after spending an extended period of time traveling in the human territories. Even though Anya is bonded (engaged) to a wonderful guy, she loves to leave the faerie kingdom and explore the human world. Mr. Wonderful has never left the kingdom of Chrior, and can't understand why she feels the need to wander. He seems pretty boring, but at least he doesn't try to stop her from going.
Anya is fae royalty, but she's never actually considered that she might have any real responsibility coming her way. After all, her cousin Illumina is the next in line for the throne. So when she receives a summons from the Queen (aka her aunt), she doesn't think much of it. And then the Faerie Queen drops a bomb on her.
She's demoting Illumina ('cause there's a good possibility that she's a bit unhinged), and naming Anya as her successor. No more trips to the human territories for Anya! Yep, from here on out, it's Duty, Duty, Duty.
This news makes Mr. Wonderful happy, but it doesn't do much for Anya's spirits.
Wait, there's more!
The Queen has been told by the giant Redwood (it's a mythical tree spirit or something...just go with it.) that her life is going to end soon.
Now years ago, her half-human son Zabriel got tired of...well, let's just say things in the faerie realm weren't all sunshine and unicorns for him. Anyway, he left Chrior and went into hiding in the human world. But now the Queen is dying...and she wants to see her son one last time.
The Queen's decision to send 14 year old Illumina out into the Territories on a search for the long-lost prince shocks Anya into action. Illumina has never been to the human world before, and she's afraid the young girl might get hurt. She's not the most likable or even the most stable faerie, but she's still Anya's baby cousin. Besides, Anya's pretty sure that even if Illumina does somehow manage to find Prince Zabriel, she might not be able to convince him to return.
Why not, you ask?
Well, sometimes Illumina can come across as a bit creepy and unnerving. 
Oh yeah. She also hates humans with a white-hot passion, thinks Zabriel is an abomination, and has a penchant for verbal diarrhea.
Soooo. Maybe not the best choice to bring him home?
And even though Anya doesn't want to admit it, deep down she would love for Zabriel to come back and take the burden of the throne off of her shoulders. So she convinces her fiancee to give her a 3 month head start before he tries to contact her (through their magical engagement bond), and then heads out after her young cousin. Consequences be damned!
And here's when things get interesting.
As soon as Anya crosses the Bloody Road (it's a kind of magical barrier that only allows magical beings to cross), she's attacked by Hunters. I can't give you the specifics, because it might be a bit spoilery, but she ends up really hurt. Fortunately, a human family finds her and nurses her back to health. Anya forms a tentative friendship with the oldest daughter, Shea. It turns out that the family has some secrets, and not the good where you're hiding the Christmas presents.
Shea's father did something a few years back that put them all on the government's shit-list. And in an effort to stay off the radar, the entire family is stuck living out in the middle of nowhere.
You have to admit, that would suck pretty hard for a teenage girl.
So when Anya is strong enough to leave, Shea packs up her stuff and hits the road with her.

Everything I've mentioned here happens early on in the book, 'cause I really don't want to give too much away.
But here's a short list of some of the cool stuff in the rest of the book:
Freaky ghost/boogeymen things that run around eating kids, big-time conspiracies everywhere, a pirate with a massive secret, and a huge I-Didn't-See-It-Coming betrayal at the end.
Speaking of the end, it had one of the best cliffhanger endings I've read in a while. Now I get that not everyone loves cliffhangers. But I'm of the opinion that if you're going to do it, you need to do it right. And this book did it right. Remember Moning's Fever series?
Seriously has anyone out there not read KMM's Fever series?
Hang on. Just give me a minute.
Ok. I'm back.
Remember the endings to those books? I would be reading frantically, thinking I had about 10 more pages left, and then BAM!!! the book was over. What?! Noooooo! If you've read those books, you know what I mean.
I see some of you are nodding your heads right now!
Well, Kluver managed to do a pretty good job re-creating that feeling for me at the end of The Queen's Choice. And while the rest of the book was good, it was really the ending that bumped it up to 4 stars for me. I honestly haven't been that impressed by a cliffhanger in a long time.
If you're in the market for YA fantasy, check this one out!


Neyra said...

i've only ever read Darkfever and wasn't really all that impressed :O i did like the overall plot and the world building, but something about the characters just didn't impress me. Still, i love the sound of this book and wouldn't mind reading it :)

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