Thursday, March 26, 2015
Review: Winter Queen by Amber Argyle
Author: Amber Argyle
Series: Fairy Queens, Book 1
Publisher: Starling Publishing
Published Date: 19 June 2013
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository
I received this book from the author for review.
~Becoming a winter queen will make Ilyenna as cold and cruel and deadly as winter itself, but it might be the only way to save her people from a war they have no hope of winning.~
Mortally wounded during a raid, seventeen-year-old Ilyenna is healed by winter fairies who present her with a seductive offer: become one of them and share their power over winter. But that power comes with a price. If she accepts, she will become a force of nature, lose her humanity, and abandon her family.
Unwilling to pay such a high price, Ilyenna is enslaved by one of the invaders, Darrien. While in captivity, she learns the attack wasn’t just a simple raid but part of a larger plot to overthrow her entire nation.
With the enemy stealing over the mountains and Darrien coming to take her to his bed, Ilyenna must decide whether to resurrect the power the fairies left behind. Doing so will allow her to defeat Darrien and the other invaders, but if she embraces winter, she will lose herself to that destroying power—forever. (summary from Goodreads)
Argyle's world is hard and lush, romantic and devastating. It is such a page turner, you'll be challenged to put it down.
Isn't that just the prettiest cover? Gives you expectations, right? Well, Argyle punches you in the face with those expectations - or rather, stabs you in the gut or lops off your head! This book. THIS BOOK. My words, they are lost. Let's start with "wow". And "so good". Maybe I can work from there. There is no lighthearted fairy tale here. Winter Queen is tense and dark, a heart-pounding read that will have you flinching and ready for more. Argyle's world building is amazing. It harkens to medieval fantasy with its clans and councils, its mysterious Raiders and outlying nations, and its acceptance of a sort of magic and religion, known as the Balance. The fairies are a part of that balance, controlling - even warring over - the winter and summer seasons. There's a fierceness to this book that is unexpected and fascinating.
Ilyena is an awesome protagonist, strong and flawed all at once, but uncompromising in her loyalty, compassion and love for her family and clan. I enjoyed the aspects of her being a Healer, how it is knowledge based but also seems a sort of calling - she is compelled to Heal. Rone is equally strong and loyal, though a little more hotheaded. Their relationship is mostly solid and obvious from the get go. Their moments together are quite swoon-worthy. There isn't a lot of build up to the romance though, as their backstory is simply that they grew up together and have always had feelings for each other. Still, it adds a nice romantic element to Winter Queen that I enjoyed.
Argyle also superbly creates one of the more vile villains I've had the unfortunate displeasure of reading. I feel my rage brewing just thinking about him! Darrien. You'll learn to hate that name. Darrien is so disgusting and evil, reading his scenes sent chills down my spine. I'm honestly torn between congratulating Argyle on writing such a horrific character, and being scared that he originated from her imagination. The brutality that is Darrien will have you shuddering, crying, and desperate to see his end.
The characters and world building give Winter Queen it's edgy and dramatic tone, that plays on your emotions and keeps you reading. The fairies are an interesting plus, their parts in the story whimsical and intense. It is a little disappointing their world is barely touched upon, but understandable given the story is focused on Ilyena and her choices. I do hope the next books in the series delve deeper into the fairies and their world though. I'm certainly looking forward to finding out.
Winter Queen is a surprising read, in all the best sorts of ways. While away an afternoon reading it, and be prepared for some seething emotional vulnerability!