Born out of wedlock, Brienna is cast off by her noble family and sent to Magnalia House – a boarding house for those looking to study the passions: art, music, dramatics, wit and knowledge. Brienna must discover her passion and train hard to perfect her skill, in the hope that she will one day graduate and be chosen by a wealthy patron, looking to support one of the ‘impassioned’.
As Brienna gets closer to the eve of her graduation, she also grows closer to her smart (and handsome) tutor, Cartier. He can sense that she is hiding a secret, but Brienna chooses not to reveal that she is experiencing memories of her ancestors – memories uncovering the mysteries of the past that may have dangerous consequences in the present.
A daring plot is brewing – to overthrow the usurper king and restore the rightful monarchy – and Brienna’s memories hold the key to its success. Cartier desperately wants to help Brienna, but she must chose her friends wisely, keep her enemies close and trust no one if she is to save herself and her people.
The Queen’s Rising was an absolute delight! It’s not often I go into a story on a whim but something called to me about this, I adore the cover and saw it popping up all over social media, So in I went. Whilst to start with it does feel like very familiar YA stomping ground (young girl with a mysterious past and parentage starts to discover there is more to her than meets the eye) it very quickly becomes so much more. Brienna, our protagonist, finds herself at Magnalia House not because of the skills one would normally need to succeed at such an establishment but because of a name, a name she is not to know. Battling to find her place within any of the available passions, she eventually ends up in Knowledge and on the start of her path. I actually found Brienna’s time at Magnalia my favourite within the book. I loved the relationships she had with the other girls, the support network they gave each other and it was refreshing to move away from cattiness that often features. Rebecca Ross managed to completely tangle me up in the story and by the time we reach the solstice I felt like I was there with Brienna and feeling every emotion she was experiencing during the highs and the lows – a rare feat.
The story however, did feel like it wasn’t paced as well as it could be. Whilst I enjoyed every second of her time at Magnalia, it did then feel like what came next was rushed. There was an urgency in how everything began to unfurl, I accept, but I think that a more balanced approach to each section would have been of benefit. I loved the notion of the Passions and how Brienna’s visions at first are inconsequential to the world around her, she has focus and it’s endearing that she still puts others first.
Her travels thrust her into a different world so violently and whilst I found it difficult to accept that she would form such trusting bonds so quickly, it worked within the context of the story and perhaps the fates have more to do with Brienna’s path than she does. There is action in this story as well as a slow burn romance. In regard to the action, this is very well done and fast paced. There are some gory moments, but the depth of the violence is happening whilst the reader is directed elsewhere, I was happy about this as the book indicates a starting reading age of 13. The romance is also mainly feelings based and I have to say I am not to sure of the age gap going on but I’m trying to gloss over that as I think there maybe a slight ick factor if I think about it too much…..
I really did enjoy this book so much though, I enjoyed the strength of the female characters and the rich history and world building. The slow release of information really helped build the crescendo created by the intricately woven plan. I have to say I was surprised to discover that this is going to be a trilogy, I was poised to write a review praising a long awaited standalone. Everything seemed to be wrapped up neatly by the end so I would be interested to see where the next story takes us.