The Vanished Queen
By: Lisbeth Campbell
Format/Source: Advanced reading copy courtesy of Saga Press (Netgalley)
When a country is held in thrall to a vicious, despotic king, it’s up to one woman to take him down.
Long ago, Queen Mirantha vanished. King Karolje claimed it was an assassination by a neighboring king, but everyone knew it was a lie. He had Disappeared her himself.
But after finding the missing queen’s diary, Anza—impassioned by her father’s unjust execution and inspired by Mirantha’s words—joins the resistance group to overthrow the king. When an encounter with Prince Esvar thrusts her into a dangerous game of court politics, one misstep could lead to a fate worse than death.
Esvar is the second son to an evil king. Trapped under his thumb and desperate for a way out, a chance meeting with Anza gives him the opportunity to join the resistance. Together, they might have the leverage to move against the king—but if they fail, their deaths could mean a total loss of freedom for generations to follow.
I found out about this book in NetGalley. It had been a long time since I had browsed and seen what was coming out for release. The premise of this book intrigued me, a mix of intrigue and family dynamics and dynastic issues in a fantasy novel. I was approved an eARC of this book from the publishers. This book will be released on 18 August 2020.
Well, this was quite a read. Initially it was Mirantha’s chapters that interested me the most, of her struggles married to an absolute evil man (like seriously, he was evil. Yeah, he could’ve been perhaps fleshed out a bit more to understand the root of why he was the way he was, but you know what? His actions spoke enough to the kind of man he was. He’s evil, enough said), of trying to find some solace and happiness, of trying to survive and ensuring her sons are not influenced by Karolje. The things she endured…Yeah, I really felt for her, and rooting for her to survive.
Other than her, it was actually the court side and Tevin and Esvar who interested me more than Anza. The family dynamics was interesting, as was the politicking and the quiet maneuvering of power. By the end of the novel I realised this was a sad story of family dysfuctions and surviving abuse, surviving parental/spousal tyranny as much as it was surviving political tyranny. Sometimes I wondered if Tevin will tip the other way and end up like their father but the struggle to not be like him was there, the fight to forge another path, to be free of his spectre. It was rather chilling how much of a hold he still had even though he was old and dying.
Anza eventually interested me the further the story moved along. When I had started reading I was honestly not sure what to make of her, the story seemed relatively generic when it started with her story but as her own inner character conflict emerged of whether she was a soldier or not, whether she was strong enough to kill someone or fight the necessary fights in the resistance, the seeming guilt she had for running and surviving all this time…Yeah, all of the characters were interesting in their own right.
And I didn’t realise until I got to the end of the novel that this book is a standalone! Exra brownie points, standalone fantasy novels are hard to come by these days. Overall The Vanished Queen starts of slow but definitey becomes a page turner the deeper you delve into the story and the machinations happening, the further to slip into Mirantha’s backstory. I highly recommend this book if you’re a fantasy reader looking for a page-turner and a standalone.