Author: Stephanie Rabig
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Publication Date: 15. March 2017
Rating: 4/5. Stars
Diversity: LGBT Characters
TW: murder, gore, abuse, misgendering, mention of biphobia, torture, suicide attempt, rape attempt
Summary: When her parents are overthrown, Lisette goes from princess to servant. Determined to still take care of her citizens, she cooperates with the new royal mistress, Emeline, to smuggle people out of the castle when needed. She also befriends the champion of the deathfights—and finds herself falling in love with more than one person.
But the new queen knows Emeline is a threat, and will do whatever it takes to see the throne she’s taken stays firmly in her grasp.
Order here: LessThanThreePress
Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
First off, I feel that I need to praise how incredibly diverse this book is! The main character is a bisexual trans woman, another is genderqueer, there’s a biromantic asexual character who dislikes kissing, but likes some other parts of relationships, there’s a lot of bisexual characters in general (so nice!) and yet neither of those parts is really the main focus of the stories. It has a huge influence on the singular character of course, but it is never their main storyline, which was nice to see. There’s also two different polyamorous relationships, one that is portrayed as unhealthy whereas the other is lovely and very healthy.
Another thing I really liked was how different fairy tales were incorporated into the book (mostly Snow White). Some parts were quite similar (though with an interesting twist to most of them), many others, however, were super different, and it had a good balance.
However, it is really hard to keep track off all the characters, as the viewpoint constantly changes and there are a lot of characters you have to keep track off. (spoiler mark text if you don’t mind reading it: the three love interests for example (the ending is so nice though!! there’s no boring love triangle, they end up in a squad, it’s wonderful!) spoiler end)
There’s a lot of complexity and political intrigue, kind of like A Song of Fire and Ice but with way less sex. The level of violence and the death count is similar and I cried when some characters died because I had grown to love them a lot. (However: None of the Main
Gays Bis are buried, hoorah!) There’s also abuse and misgendering, as well as some casual biphobia (all of this is challenged in the text though), one suicide and an attempted sexual assault, but neither is described in detail.
The story is really long, which felt exhausting at times, even though the story never felt dragged out and it is very hard to read at times due to the different viewpoints and all the characters, but if you have the time to really submerge yourself into a novel, this is definitely a good choice.
I was however not really a fan of the later antagonist in the book. She felt over the top for me a lot of times, but I liked her ending even less. It just didn’t sit right for me.
But despite this, this book was a really good and it is definitely a lovely fantasy/fairytale retelling with an incredibly diverse cast. I really liked it.