Thursday, 19 April 2018

Book Review | The Queens of Innis Lear

Genre: High Fantasy

Publication Date: 27th March 2018

My Rating: ★★.5

Goodreads Summary:

A kingdom at risk, a crown divided, a family drenched in blood.

The erratic decisions of a prophecy-obsessed king have drained Innis Lear of its wild magic, leaving behind a trail of barren crops and despondent subjects. Enemy nations circle the once-bountiful isle, sensing its growing vulnerability, hungry to control the ideal port for all trade routes.

The king's three daughters—battle-hungry Gaela, master manipulator Reagan, and restrained, starblessed Elia—know the realm's only chance of resurrection is to crown a new sovereign, proving a strong hand can resurrect magic and defend itself. But their father will not choose an heir until the longest night of the year, when prophecies align and a poison ritual can be enacted.

Refusing to leave their future in the hands of blind faith, the daughters of Innis Lear prepare for war—but regardless of who wins the crown, the shores of Innis will weep the blood of a house divided.

**No Spoilers**

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I first heard about this book a few months ago and I was immediately interested when I heard the premise: King Lear retold in a high fantasy format. I really like the Shakespeare play, and fantasy is my favourite genre so I was very excited to see where this would go.

Let's start with the positives. The writing was exceptionally beautiful. Gratton has a wonderful talent of painting beautiful and picturesque descriptions with her words alone. I felt like I could imagine every aspect of the island of Innis Lear; it's beautiful hills and moors and forests. I also really loved the magic system. The magic was tied heavily to both the gods and the island itself which I found really unique and interesting. It also just felt like the magic worked hand-in-hand with the environment and plot, and it never felt like a plot device or add-on.

Gratton's characters were all so well-developed, even those that were only there for a few pages. I will say it took me around 50-100 pages to get all the characters straight in my head as I kept muddling up the various lords, but once that was settled, each character became so unique. Ban was obviously the most complex character; making decisions that were both infuriating yet understanding. I loved his mother as well in this. I found Elia to be quite a boring character compared to her sisters, but she was also the most likeable (to an extent). Gaela was incredibly fierce in every aspect of her life, while Reagan was fierce in her mental ability. I loved how different each sister is yet how alike they also were in what they decided to do. I also enjoyed that the author didn't shy away from difficult topics and addressed them (however, I will add trigger warnings for abuse and miscarriage to this review!). Overall, all of the characters were complex and it was so easy to both empathise with them, yet hate every decision they made. They were all flawed and that is exactly what made them so realistic.

My main issue with this book was the very slow pacing and the length of the story. Normally, I don't mind a slow start or a long book (in fact I love long epic fantasies), however, this one just felt like it went on for the sake of it. Some character's perspectives were shown that felt unnecessary, and I just felt like not enough was happening to warrant the length of the book. I really feel as though it could have been shortened by 200 pages and still been an equally amazing novel. 

I did enjoy this book but definitely not as much as I'd initially hoped. The slow pacing really made it less enjoyable for me personally, but I do know a lot of people have found their new favourite book in this. I would highly recommend this for anyone who enjoys character-driven stories, enjoys a slower pace fantasy, and is also a fan of Shakespeare (although I don't think it's necessary to have read the play to enjoy this!).

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