When sisters Muna and Sakti wake up on the peaceful beach of the island of Janda Baik, they can’t remember anything, except that they are bound as only sisters can be. They have been cursed by an unknown enchanter, and slowly Sakti starts to fade away. The only hope of saving her is to go to distant Britain, where the Sorceress Royal has established an academy to train women in magic.
If Muna is to save her sister, she must learn to navigate high society, and trick the English magicians into believing she is a magical prodigy. As she’s drawn into their intrigues, she must uncover the secrets of her past, and journey into a world with more magic than she had ever dreamed.
Two sisters are cursed, and with the assistance of their high witch, they set off to England in the hopes of breaking their curses and finding out who the curseworker is. Meanwhile, England have been threatened by the Queen of the Unseen Realm as she believes the Sorceress Royal has stolen the Queen’s prized amulet, that she’s prepared to go to war over. The sisters find themselves in the middle of this magical drama, and attempt to navigate helping England from a potential war, all the while trying to save themselves from their formidable threat: The Great Serpent.
This book was a fantasy filled adventure I really enjoyed. Regrettably, I haven’t read the author’s first book in this series, Sorcerer to the Crown, although they can be read independently. I wish I had read the first one, perhaps, for some character context.
I knew from the offset this book was going to be enjoyable, because the writing style was truly captivating. It illustrated a magical atmosphere that completely absorbed me into the plot, the characters and the magical realms created.
The settings in this book were fun. I imagined Janda Baik like a tropical island, and saw England’s Academy for witches as something like an old but adapted cathedral. Then there was the Unseen Realm, where Threlfall’s caves and the tree dungeons were easy and enjoyable to imagine.
I liked the characters in this book, particularly Muna. She was full of wit and moxie, which made her easily likeable. The other characters provided the story with a variety of attitudes and action, that made me as a reader fully engaged, but they also contributed to a satisfying pace, as character interactions was repeatedly used to move the story along.
The family of dragons were one of my favourite parts of this story. The dragon Georgiana was really awesome, as was Rollo, and I think I need a book ASAP on the Threlfall dragon family, because seriously, they have family drama that could definitely be developed into an independent story.
There were two issues with the book that did leave me sort of underwhelmed. Firstly, the inclusion of the Stapleton family. These characters, like Amelia etc., read as totally irrelevant to the central story. Especially during chapters 19 – 21, where the subplot of the Stapleton’s family drama was focused on. Sadly, this subplot felt chore-some to read, as it verged off and detracted from the book’s building climax.
Secondly, by the end of the book, I was disappointed with how the issue of female oppression in the magical world was handled. For the amount of mention of this topic, I would have liked some form of confrontation of the issue, because, whilst some of the female characters rebelled against their oppression, all they did when it was mentioned was more or less roll their eyes. It didn’t need to be anything major, but a witty, snappy and memorable one liner that declared women were quite able to do as they pleased, would have been nice.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read with a plot full of magic and adventure that I read over 6 days. I really, really wanted to rate this 5 stars, but with the benefit of hindsight through writing this review, I must rate it 4 stars, as I found too many issues that left me vexed in my overall feelings about the story. The True Queen is definitely worth a read because I did love it, and I’m already planning on pre-ordering my hardback copy 🙂
P.s. I REALLY think a story about the Threlfall family would be AWESOME! Fingers crossed this happens, I’ll wish on every shooting star!
The True Queen by Zen Cho
Published 21st March 2019
Genre: fantasy, fiction
*Thank you kindly to Netgalley and the publishers for providing me with an e-copy, in exchange for this honest review.