Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Thorn Queen by Richelle Mead

Spoiler Warning! Unavoidable spoilers from first book Storm Born! I recommend you don't read this if you've yet to read it!

"Eugenie Markham is a shaman for hire, paid to bind and banish creatures from the Otherworld. But after her last battle, she's also become queen of the Thorn Land. It's hardly an envious life, not with her kingdom in tatters, her love life in chaos, and Eugenie eager to avoid the prophecy about her firstborn destroying mankind. And now young girls are disappearing from the Otherworld, and no one - except Eugenie - seems willing to find out why. Eugenie has spilled plenty of fey blood in her time, but this enemy is shrewd, subtle, and nursing a very personal grudge. And the men in her life aren't making things any easier. Her boyfriend Kiyo is preoccupied with his pregnant ex, and sexy fey king Dorian always poses a dangerous distraction. With or without their help, Eugenie must venture deep into the Otherworld and trust in an unpredictable power she can barely control. Reluctant queen or not, Eugenie has sworn to do her duty - even if it means facing the darkest - and deadliest - side of her nature..."

Thorn Queen is the second book in the Dark Swan series by Richelle Mead, author of the very popular young adult series Vampire Academy and also has another popular adult series about a Succubus. It picks up a few months after the events of Storm Born, which left Eugenie with an unwanted kingdom in the Otherworld, and power she was determined to ignore, yet unable to avoid. She's still having to deal with most male fey trying to father her first born, intent of fulfilling the prophecy that her first born will take control of the human world once more. Through rape or consent, most of the men after her aren't fussy.

Even without the unwanted attention, Eugenie has guy problems. Her hot, fox-shifter boyfriend Kiyo is increasingly occupied with his very pregnant ex-girlfriend Maiwenn. A Queen herself and confident in her beauty and grace in the Otherworld, Eugenie wonders how she can fit in to Kiyo's life with her and their child. And she's continuously tempted by the darkly seductive king of the Oak Land, Dorian. Who has his own agendas in play as well. A fan of Eugenie's late and greatly hated father, Storm King, he would love to father his grandson. But is that his only reason for wanting her?

The Eugenie we find here in Thorn Queen is an unhappy one. She's avoiding her duties as queen of the Thorn Land as much as she can, unaware of the consequences for the people living there. Riding back to her castle after a necessary trip in the Otherworld, Eugenie learns of multiple girls who have gone missing. It's thought they've been taken. Eugenie doesn't want the girls at risk, and wants to get them back, realising they're innocent victims, but even with her desire to get them back, she's more willing to let the others do a good chunk of the work at her order. Meanwhile, she's trying to learn greater control over more of her powers, despite telling Kiyo and everyone else, that she wasn't interested in it. It ignites a dangerous spark in her she's not sure she wants.

Thorn Queen is well written and as vivid as Storm Born. But it is a different Eugenie we find here, one burdened with more than she seems willing to deal with. There are real sparks of her earlier self, particularly towards the end, but I believe the series has taken on a much darker edge with this book. When I finished it I found myself wondering if I really liked it in the end, but after thinking about it for a few days, letting it sink in, I really do love it. Whatever it was I expected from it after the fantastic Storm Born, this wasn't it. However, it's still a great story and I'm looking forward to the next. 8/10

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