Review: Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Long May She Reign by Rhiannon ThomasLong May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas
Published by HarperTeen on February 21, 2017
Pages: 432
Format: Hardcover
Source: the publisher
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The Girl of Fire and Thorns meets The Queen of the Tearling in this thrilling fantasy standalone about one girl’s unexpected rise to power.

Freya was never meant be queen. Twenty third in line to the throne, she never dreamed of a life in the palace, and would much rather research in her laboratory than participate in the intrigues of court. However, when an extravagant banquet turns deadly and the king and those closest to him are poisoned, Freya suddenly finds herself on the throne.

Freya may have escaped the massacre, but she is far from safe. The nobles don’t respect her, her councillors want to control her, and with the mystery of who killed the king still unsolved, Freya knows that a single mistake could cost her the kingdom – and her life.

Freya is determined to survive, and that means uncovering the murderers herself. Until then, she can’t trust anyone. Not her advisors. Not the king’s dashing and enigmatic illegitimate son. Not even her own father, who always wanted the best for her, but also wanted more power for himself.

As Freya’s enemies close in and her loyalties are tested, she must decide if she is ready to rule and, if so, how far she is willing to go to keep the crown.

I was really excited when I first heard about this book, but also nervous. I was excited because I LOVED the title and cover (GORGEOUS, GORGEOUS cover) and the plot sounded beyond intriguing. I was nervous because I read A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas back in 2015 and it was a disaster – I didn’t connect with the characters, I was bored by the plot and I felt let down by the ending and the surprise sequel, which I did not read. But I’m all for giving authors a second chance, if their new book sounds epic. And in this case, I’m so, so glad I did! This book wasn’t without it’s issues, but it was overall an enjoyable read and a HUGE improvement from A Wicked Thing.

First of all, can we talk about the fact that this book is a YA fantasy stand-alone?? How often does THAT happen?? It’s a nice break from all the fantasy trilogies and series out there. But after reaching the end of the book, I must say.. I actually wish there WAS going to be a sequel. This first book was basically all about securing Freya’s reign and finding the murderer. But now that the murderer has been dealt with, I’d love to see Freya’s ACTUAL reign, see what kind of a queen she’ll be. I still have a lot of questions that I want answered!

Freya herself was epic and incredibly relatable. She was a bit timid in the beginning and maybe even a bit of a puppet for her advisors – but only until she regained her footing, made some allies and really had a chance to let everything that had happened sink in. I mean, I don’t blame her for her confusion in the beginning – she was twenty third in line to the throne! She never imagined she’d be queen! It was a LOT to take in. But once she accepted her fate, she really began to bloom. This is VERY specific, but in my opinion, you see a clear and obvious change in Freya on page 342. At that point, you can truly see that she has grown into a more confident woman who knows what kind of queen she wants to be. At the same time, she did make some rash decisions that could have had severe consequences. But I think that was all part of the learning curve.

There were a LOT of secondary characters. I read the first 100 pages of this book really fast and then didn’t pick it up for two days (because life, not because of the book), and I actually had to go back to page one and skim 130+ pages to remind myself of who everyone was. But I don’t want to say that’s the fault of the book, necessarily. I think it was because of my reading situation.

I really liked Madeleine Wolff and William Fitzroy, but I had a very difficult time trusting them – along with Holt – for obvious reasons. I’m intrigued with the way all of their stories ended, though, and would love to see what happens to them next in a sequel.

Overall, I’m really, really happy I picked this up. Everything I couldn’t stand about A Wicked Thing was much improved in Long May She Reign. Thomas’s writing was SO much better and I liked the characters a LOT more. Though the book was still a bit long (in my opinion), it was a much faster read, with far better pacing, and it held my attention way more. I’m really glad I gave Rhiannon Thomas a second chance and I’m very excited to see what she does next.

I definitely recommend this to fantasy fans, especially if you love reading about royalty, intrigue and a good murder mystery!


Review: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon ThomasA Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas
Series: A Wicked Thing #1
Published by HarperTeen on February 24, 2015
Pages: 337
Source: the publisher
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Rhiannon Thomas's dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining of Sleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after.

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her "true love" is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept.

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world … and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.

On the surface, A Wicked Thing is everything I love in a book: It’s based on a fairy tale, part retelling and part continuation; it’s what happens after Sleeping Beauty is kissed awake by the Prince. I should have loved it! Sadly, this glorious-sounding book deceived me and I didn’t love it, as I had hoped to. The plot was intriguing, but I couldn’t connect with the characters and the pacing was slow – borderline boring, even. Though I was tempted to DNF, I pushed through to the end. Though the plot and pacing picked up at one point, I still never connected to the characters and never ended up fully embracing the characters or the story.

Aurora was awesome in the beginning. Or maybe I judged her to be awesome too quickly. In the beginning, she felt like a real person with real conerns and real fears. She’s in a strange place, surrounded by strangers and all her loved ones have are long dead. I loved that she didn’t fall in “love at first sight” with the prince. She balked at the idea that this stranger was kissing her, that she was destined to marry him. And really, who wakes up after 100 years, finds out their family is dead and they’re going to marry a stranger and says, “Yay! Okay!” So that was awesome, since it challenged every fairy tale that ended just like that (or similarly). After awhile, I realized I just wasn’t connecting with Aurora, no matter how I felt about her at the beginning of the book. And as the book continued on, that feeling of disconnect grew. I didn’t necessarily dislike her, but she definitely annoyed me. Internally, she would curse everyone who annoyed/upset her, the way things were run and her helplessness. But… she really never did anything to change what was. Not until a devastating tragedy near the very end.

Rodric just… was. I mean, he had some moments where he was kind to Aurora. He obviously loved Isabelle, his little sister. And he seemed like he would turn out to be a fine king someday. But in the present… He kind of just went through the motions. Honestly, I was reading the eBook and it took until 95% (the second to last chapter, I believe) before he did something that made me really like him a lot. So… Took him long enough…?

I really, really liked Isabelle. She was so innocent, with such a bright future. I loved her interactions with Aurora. But then that ending… That was probably the only huge, shocking plot twist in the whole book and the only moment when I wanted to scream and throw my iPad across the room.

The King seemed fair but firm in the beginning. But as the book went on, he definitely showed signs of being power hungry and cruel. He definitely reminded me of King Henry from Reign. So, of course, I saw the Queen as Catherine from Reign. She was strong and regal, firm in her beliefs. She never did anything without a good reason, though not necessarily with good intentions. Her main goal was to keep her family safe. So, of course, my heart broke for her during That Part.

Tristan was such an odd character… He was heavily present in the first half of the book, but almost completely disappeared in the second half. I expected him to be the third member of the love triangle and I think he was in the beginning… I don’t know how I feel about him, since we didn’t see enough of him. But honestly, I’d prefer if Finnegan (who I’ll talk about in a second) was the third member of the love triangle.

If I had to pick a favorite character, I’d have to say Prince Finnegan. He reminded me 100% of Narcisse from Reign. He was cocky, ambitious and full of himself. But it was clear that, very deep down, he was actually a great guy. I definitely wouldn’t fully trust him, since power and politics fueled him, but he seemed like a loyal man who wouldn’t go back on a deal, once that deal was signed and sealed.

As I mentioned previously, the pacing was super slow in this book. The first 60% was boring and stagnant. Almost nothing of interest happened. Finally, around 63%, it seemed like things were finally picking up and I was really excited. Unfortunately, the pacing fell flat again around 76% and the ending dragged. I was originally under the impression this was a stand-alone and, if that was the case, the ending was an incredible disappointment; it was unfulfilling and too many things were left unanswered. But now I see this is listed on Goodreads as a series – or at least a duology. With that in mind, I’ll cut the ending a small bit of slack. Except this book REALLY doesn’t need to be a series. I think it should have been wrapped up at the end of book one and that’s that.

Overall, while the plot intrigued me and I managed to push through and finish this book, it took me almost three weeks to do so and I’m still wondering if it was worth it. A few interesting things happened and I guess those parts made it worthwhile. I’m honestly really sad I didn’t enjoy this more, since Fairy Tale Retellings are my Book Drug of Choice. I highly doubt I’ll bother with book two and if I do, it’ll only be out of curiosity and a desire to get answers to all these unsolved questions that were left dangling at the end of the book. Would I recommend this? I’m hesitant to, since my feelings seem to be on par with how the majority of readers/bloggers felt about this book. But you never know, maybe you’ll love it where I didn’t? If you do decide to read it, I truly do hope you love it!