Genre: Young Adult Fantasy (Dystopian?)
Sadly, when I think of the words “Red Queen” together, I think about the red queen from Through the Looking Glass. Alas, this novel is NOTHING like the world of Alice in Wonderland. I came across this book as a referral through a friend. He had only read the first chapter and his description of it was enough for me to want to pick this book up as well. Based on his description of the first chapter, this is a fictional world divided by silver bloods and red bloods. Red bloods are a lower class, working class, and servants, while silver bloods are royal families and major houses. The other major difference between those of red blood and those of silver, is that the silver bloods have special abilities, able to draw upon things around them like fire, water, or metal. Some are healers, and some can read minds. A review on the accompanying novella, Cruel Crown, can be found here.
In Mare Barrow’s world, being content with the life of a red is all well and good, until the time comes that anyone of age must go up for conscription (into the army) if they do not have an apprenticeship with a silver. When Mare attempts to pickpocket a man named Cal in a pub, he finds her desperation for money rather moving and hooks her up with a job among the servants of the royal palace. Little did she know that Cal was actually the first prince of the silver bloods! When faced with a stressful situation in the palace, Mare emits a lightning power, the kind of power that only a silver should have. The king and queen use this to their advantage, saying Mare was a silver blood all along, when in reality, she is a red blood with a power stronger than silver, stronger than both. When she is paired up with Maven, the second prince, the two join the terrorist group seeking equality: The Scarlet Guard.
The plot of the novel is fairly well driven, and the character development has a good change over time. The twist at the end is slightly predictable, but at the same time I was glad that it happened. It really added to my interest to continue reading the next book. Let’s just say the coup doesn’t go quite as planned for the Scarlet Guard.
This is a novel that is generally about the equality of people, as many novels are about. I had trouble figuring out if this novel was meant to be fantasy or dystopian, but with the names of the places and the powers of the silvers, I finally had to go with fantasy, despite the slight sprinkle of technology within the world. Part of the reason I cannot say this novel is dystopian is because it seems to be its own invented world, not something resembling a current society. Not only that, but when red bloods bleed, their blood is red (of course) and when silver bloods bleed, they bleed out silver, which was a very interesting trait of the people.
This book did take me a little while to get into (possibly the first fifty pages or so), but once Mare was at the palace, the story really picked up, and once the politics of the world grew more and more advanced in the novel, I wanted to see who would come out on top. Despite the slow start and the vagueness of the given world at first, I would say, YES, you should read this book. It is character and plot driven, and there’s a strong political standing in the world making the conflict interesting enough to want to continue to the resolution. I am greatly looking forward to Glass Sword, the second book in the series.