Hello bookworms, happy Wednesday! This week I am reviewing a standalone YA novel, Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas.(3 / 5)
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.
Freya is a part of the King’s court, but she doesn’t want to be. She is different. She would much rather be doing experiments in her basement and hanging out with her cat than attending royal celebrations and dinners. Her world is changed when the entire court is poisoned and now she, who hasn’t been prepared, has to take the throne and become queen.
I had high hopes for this book, which may have been why for me it was just an average read. I loved the idea of a girl, Freya, 23rd in line to the throne, being a science nerd and different from everyone else in the court! It was such a unique idea and not one presented in a lot of YA reads. She was an outcast, no one talked to her as they thought she was weird. However, instead of her really having to deal with her social situation, they just kill everyone off (yes I understand this has to happen as she is to be queen which is the plot of the story, but still) and now only has to deal with a very small number of people. She also has social anxiety which is something I liked to see represented as well (YAY for diversity in books)! But the book never really delves deep into the intriciscies of her anxiety, she just kind of gets over it.
In general, I just felt that not a lot happened in the book. The plot never thickens, there is no world expansion really outside of the city that the kingdom presides in and I felt like I never knew the characters on a deep level. The one thing that really frustrated me is the lack of realism. The entire court is poisoned and yet they still keep having parties with food that was just handed to Freya without so much as a thought about them poisoning her AGAIN. I don’t know I guess I just expected them to have more security after a mass murder? Also, where are the other countries that see their weakness and want to try to take over? I guess I just wanted more from this novel than what I got.
Now on to the good parts of the book:
There were a lot of support for female friendship in this book so thats AWESOME! I feel like in most books the females are enemies or stab each other in the back and so to see a book with some deep, meaningful friendships between girls was great! I also loved how Freya’s dad supported her. Yes, he made her attend court functions but he still allowed her to be her and perform her experiments in her basement! They clearly love each other and it’s cute to see that parental interaction (I feel like all the books I have been reading lately either the parents are THE WORST people EVER or are just kind of nonexistent? Anyone else feel this way?).
I did genuinely like the main character. She struggles to fit in, which I think is relatable to a lot of people and I liked that she knew who she was and wouldn’t back down from that. She was also very intelligent and didn’t leave me banging my head against the wall in frustration at her stupidity (unlike every other main character ever). She uses her strengths to her advantage throughout the book and isn’t just going to sit around and accept her fate and that left me rooting for her and enjoying finding what happened to her character!
The book as a whole is a very creative concept and is not something that has been done a million times in the YA world. The ideas that Thomas had were refreshing, I guess for me they just weren’t complete and I felt the book needed a little more detail to it!
Overall Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas was an okay book. If you are looking for something with a little mystery solving while also learning the finer details court politics then you will probably like this book. I just felt that not enough happened and the story did not have enough depth. Perhaps that is why all the YA books are becoming series, they need more pages to provide the depth and the story they need to tell at the same time! This book for me will probably not be one I read again, but I am not upset that I spent the time reading it.
Have you read Long May She Reign? What did you think about Freya’s character? Leave me a comment letting me know!