Ansa has always been a fighter.
As a child, she fought the invaders who murdered her parents and snatched her as a raid prize. She fought for her place next to Thyra, the daughter of the Krigere Chieftain. She fought for her status as a warrior in her tribe: blood and victory are her way of life. But the day her Krigere cross the great lake and threaten the witch queen of the Kupari, everything changes.
Cursed by the queen with fire and ice, Ansa is forced to fight against an invisible enemy—the dark magic that has embedded itself deep in her bones. The more she seeks to hide it, the more dangerous it becomes. And with the Krigere numbers decimated and the tribe under threat from the traitorous brother of the dead Chieftain, Ansa is torn between her loyalty to the Krigere, her love for Thyra, and her own survival instincts.
With her world in chaos and each side wanting to claim her for their own, only one thing is certain: unless Ansa can control the terrible magic inside her, everything she’s fought for will be destroyed.
Kindle Edition, 432 pages
Published January 3rd 2017 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Three stars: A book with a frustrating main character and a story that falls flat.
Ansa has fought her whole young life to prove that she is a fierce warrior. Kidnapped and taken as a raid prize after her parents were murdered, Ansa has carved out a life amongst the Krigere tribe. The Krigere are a fierce people, who raid and conquer weaker people. They are blood thirsty and violent. Their latest conquest is to take over the Kupari, who are led by a witch queen who wields fire and ice. After the horrifying battle, Ansa finds herself cursed by the witch queen. Her body possesses dark magic of fire and ice. To make matters worse, her people are threatened by their dead Chieftain's brother, Nisse. Ansa vows to be loyal to Thyra, the new chieftain, whom she is secretly in love with. However, Ansa will soon find her loyalties stretched to the breaking point. Can she come to terms with who she is and conquer the curse?
What I Liked:
- I was a big fan of The Impostor Queen last year, and I had high hopes for The Cursed Queen. While this book doesn't shine like it's predecessor, it still features an exciting story, complex characters and excellent world building. While I didn't love this one quite as much, I did like the way things ended, and I have high hopes that the stage is set for a brilliant finale.
- Ms. Fine's world building is always top notch. This book returned to the world we were introduced to in the last book, but it is decidedly different. This time, the reader is introduced to the Krigere: the fierce, blood thirsty tribe who attacked the Kupari in the first book. Once I found my footing, I liked exploring the other side of the story. I will be interested to see how these two civilizations collide in the next book.
- This book is all about the girls. Ansa, the main character, is one who I found required extreme patience. Even though I had my issues with her throughout the book, I was pleased to see that she finally reached her potential and came to terms with her identity, for the most part. The character who ended up stealing the show for me was Thyra. My opinion of her wavered throughout the book, but when all the chips were laid out on the table, I was impressed that she stayed true to her beliefs and that she stayed her course, no matter how bad things got for her.
- I liked many of the secondary characters. I adored Halina. She was brave and willing to stare down danger no matter the cost. Sander was another character who surprised me, in the end, he stole my heart. I also liked getting to know another side of Sig, I will be interested to see him again in the next book.
- I enjoyed the complexity of the plot. There are many story arcs that weave together. Plus, there is danger, treachery and some jaw dropping twists. It was hard to know whom to trust. I liked that I was constantly guessing.
- I was pleased that the book didn't end on a brutal cliffhanger. Yes, there are still story arcs needing to be completed, but at least this book ended neatly, for the most part.
And The Not So Much:
- I struggled immersing into this story. I felt so lost, and I couldn't figure out why. At first, I thought I was suffering from severe book amnesia because none of the characters were familiar and the story wasn't fitting in with the story lines from the first book. It was troubling. Finally toward the end, things began to click into place. I didn't realize that this was a companion novel. Readers be warned, this is a completely different story from the first book.
- Ansa.....where do I start with her? Don't get me wrong, I like strong female characters, which Ansa embodies. She is a fierce warrior, strong and capable. My problem with her was that she was rash, impetuous and unable to stick to her convictions. She is alway flip flopping, easily manipulated, unable to be loyal to anyone, even her beloved, Thyra. She is immature and frustrating. I kept expecting her to show signs of growth and maturity, she finally reaches that point in the final pages, and yes it was rewarding, but it was a struggle to put up with her until then. I am hopeful that she will be a character that I will like better in the next book.
- This book features a female/female romance. I struggled with the romance not because it was f/f but because it wasn't one that was subtle. From the first pages, all the reader gets is Ansa's lust over Thryra, it was bold and in your face. I like more depth and slow movement. Then it was disappointing to see how quickly Ansa changed her feelings. After all the chaos, it does move into a more positive light, and I am hopeful. However, I think my disappointment stemmed from the fact that usually I adore Ms. Fine's romances because they have so much depth and feeling and they are slow bloomers. The romance in this one doesn't even compare.
The Cursed Queen was a book that I had high hopes for as I loved the first book. Even though I was a harsh critic of this book, because I have grown to expect the best from Ms. Fine, this book still was worth the read due to it's interesting story, excellent world building and complex characters. Keep in mind, this is a companion book and that it features an independent story from the first book. At the end of this book, it was apparent that Ms. Fine has set the stage for what will hopefully be an epic finale.
I borrowed a copy of this book from the library. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.
Don't miss the first book: