A couple of months ago, I had the chance to do copyediting on a new fantasy-urban fantasy hybrid called The Fallen Queen, due to be released next Tuesday. I approached it with some trepidation, I have to admit. First, I’m not a great fan of high fantasy, and this had a feel of epicness to it. It also had a freakin’ chart of the realms of the heavens in the front—and nothing annoys me more than a book that needs to explain itself before you start it (yes, that even goes for my much-loved Black Dagger Brotherhood and its glossary). I always skip such things.
So imagine my surprise when I realized very early on that this book from author Jane Kindred was probably going to be among the top baker's dozen books I’ve read this year.And I’ve read a LOT of books this year.
THE OFFICIAL BLURB: Heaven can go to hell. Until her cousin slaughtered the supernal family, Anazakia’s father ruled the Heavens, governing noble Host and Fallen peasants alike. Now Anazakia is the last grand duchess of the House of Arkhangel’sk, and all she wants is to stay alive. Hunted by Seraph assassins, Anazakia flees Heaven with two Fallen thieves—fire demon Vasily and air demon Belphagor, each with their own nefarious agenda—who hide her in the world of Man. The line between vice and virtue soon blurs, and when Belphagor is imprisoned, the unexpected passion of Vasily warms her through the Russian winter. Heaven seems a distant dream, but when Anazakia learns the truth behind the celestial coup, she will have to return to fight for the throne—even if it means saving the man who murdered everyone she loved.
MY THOUGHTS: This isn’t a story of sexy angels chasing down supernatural bad guys. It’s not a romance per se although there are elements. It isn’t religious. It isn’t filled with swords, although there’s a fair amount of sorcery.
Here’s what it is: beautifully written, set in both a complex (but not overwhelming) realm of heaven and the stark reality of Russia. It is filled with three-dimensional characters you can’t help but care about, even when they’re doing horrible things to each other. It grips you early on, and barrels you from heaven to earth and back again without letting up. Anazakia is almost (but not quite) overshadowed by her demon companions Vasily and Belphagor, but in the end manages to hold her own. Two more unlikely heroes than those demons, however, I haven’t met in a while. I was truly sad when the book ended, and can’t wait to see where Kindred takes this new series next.
THE GIVEAWAY: Want to win a copy of The Fallen Queen? Have you read a book that you thought might not be your cup of tea and ended up loving it? You know the routine: +1 for comment, +1 for blog follow, +1 for Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and +1 for Tweet or Retweet. Go!