Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Random Reads Review - Thorn Queen (Dark Swan #2) by Richelle Mead

Thorn Queen (Dark Swan, #2)Title: Thorn Queen (Dark Swan #2)
Author: Richelle Mead
Release Date: 2008
Pages: 480, Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 4.15 stars
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Content Rating: 18+ (Adult - definitely some explicit sex scenes)

Summary from Goodreads: Eugenie Markham is a shaman for hire. She's paid to bind and banish creatures from the Otherworld.

But something happened after her last battle. She became queen of the Thorn Land. With her kingdom in tatters, her love life in chaos, and eager to avoid the prophecy about her firstborn destroying mankind, the job's really not all it's cracked up to be.

Now young girls are disappearing from the Otherworld, and no one seems willing to find out why. Or to put an end to it. Not that Eugenie's fazed by spilling fey blood, but this enemy is shrewd, subtle, and dangerous -- and nursing a very personal grudge.

Eugenie must venture deep into the Otherworld and trust in a power she can barely control. She may be a reluctant queen, but she's vowed to do her duty, even if it means facing the darkest and deadliest side of her nature.


This book was my July Random Read.  As you can see, I once again got it in just under the gun!  When picked this book for me, I had mixed feelings.  I actually couldn't remember all that much about the first book in this series and when I checked it out on Goodreads, all I could remember is that I thought it was good, but not great.  But, I had since read the Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series (also by Richelle Mead) - I loved both of those, so I thought that I certainly needed to give The Dark Swan series another chance!  Well, I'm definitely glad I did.

Okay, I have to start by saying that this book is definitely an adult book - much more explicit sex than in the Vampire Academy books.  If you've been reading my recent reviews, you'll see that this seems to be the theme for me this week. I'm not quite sure why, but that's just the way it worked out.  Sigh. But, I'm happy to say that, while this book definitely had some explicit sex scenes, the sex didn't define the book - it was just one element of a very emotionally complex book.

By the end of Thorn Queen, I was hooked on this series - I will definitely be reading the next two books!

The negatives:
  • Rape.  If you're sensitive to the issue of rape in a book, this is not for you.  Of course, if you read the first book in this series then you probably already know that it's not for you (since the whole first book is spent with Eugenie avoiding being raped by gentry that want to impregnate her so they can father a prophesied child - I actually think this may have been one of the things that made me feel just so-so about the first book).  That threat doesn't go away in this book and, in fact, becomes more than a threat. (I don't want to say more because it would spoil things, but I do want to give a warning, since this is obviously a very sensitive subject).
 What I LOVED:
  • The Emotional Complexity.  Eugenie struggles in this book.  She's tough, she's hardened and she's used to taking care of herself, but she suddenly finds herself in a situation that she doesn't know how to handle (actually more than one) and it throws her.  Eugenie never wanted to be a gentry queen and she certainly doesn't want to be responsible for a whole kingdom.  She knows that she doesn't want to live up to her father's reputation of being a ruthless leader, but she finds it impossible to suddenly be responsible for the lives of the gentry in her kingdom (especially after having spent so much time hunting them in the mortal realm!).  Morality is no longer black and white and she suddenly finds herself being asked to choose sides between humans and gentry - a decision she once thought would be easy, but gets much more complicated as time goes on.  She also struggles to control her ever-growing desire for magic - and finds that it may be leading her down a dark path that she can't escape.
  • The love triangle.  Yes, there is a love triangle.  But, just like with the rest of the story, it's grounded in Eugenie's very realistic emotional turmoil.  After all, her boyfriend is having a baby with another woman!  I completely believed Eugenie's struggle with jealousy and her somewhat selfish desire to have Kiyo all to herself.  I felt for her when she met the baby for the first time and fought to be nothing but happy for Kiyo when she really felt a sense of loss over something she didn't even know if she wanted and an insecurity that she couldn't simply banish.  And then there was Dorian, who seemed to understand all that about her when Kiyo just didn't.  Dorian who seemed to understand her thoughts and fears and needs, even when she didn't want him to.  In short, I believed in Eugenie's struggle.  That's the key to a good love triangle.
Thorn Queen was an emotionally complex story with an exciting plot.  I can't wait to find out what happens to Eugenie next!  4.5/5 Stars.