Title: Nameless Queen
Author: Rebecca McLaughlin
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: January 7th, 2020 (Crown Books for Young Readers)
Synopsis: Everyone expected the king’s daughter would inherit the throne. No one expected me.
It shouldn’t even be possible. I’m Nameless, a class of citizens so disrespected, we don’t even get names. Heck, dozens of us have been going missing for months and no one seems to care.
But there’s no denying the tattoo emblazoned on my arm. I am queen. In a palace where the corridors are more dangerous the streets, though, how could I possibly rule? And what will become of the Nameless if I don’t?
“Some of the best things are Nameless.”
The city of Seriden consists of three classes: the Royals, who are like the aristocracy, the Legals, who make up the working class, and the Nameless, who basically don’t have names, and hence no legal rights. When the ruler of the city dies, they speak the name of their successor out loud and hence transfer the crown tattoo, which grants magical abilities to the heir. But when the tattoo shows up on the arm of a Nameless girl, who goes by Coin, people are outraged, and things quickly get dangerous for her. She understands soon enough that there is no way the Royal Council is actually going to let her reign, much less do something about the Nameless who have been disappearing off the streets of late, but Coin must figure out the secret of how she, a Nameless girl, could have possibly been Named by the late King as heir.
Generally speaking, I enjoyed the story. It was nice to see one of those rare YA fantasy novels with no element of romance in it, choosing instead to focus on the politics of the situation at hand and the disparity between the three social classes. I also really liked the way strong friendships were depicted in this story, and how the Nameless, despite having nothing and nobody of their own still stand by each other and choose their own families, signifying that family is not necessarily just what you are born into.
Sure, there were some new concepts to this tale, but in general it felt like a rinse-repeat scenario of learning to rule while uncovering a conspiracy that threatens the kingdom – so not all that original. Then there is the magic system and world-building where it felt like the story was just making up things as it went along. I also felt like the characters were very hard to connect to, even Coin. For someone who has such an interesting background, having grown up on the streets, thieving for a living, her arc in this story was rather bland, and none of her skills ever come into play. Then there’s Glenquartz, a guard at the court, who helps Coin and protects her, but unless I missed it, there’s really no reason given for it except for maybe that as a Legal, he can never rise above a certain rank.
Overall, Nameless Queen was fast paced and enjoyable – a solid debut, and a standalone that was a very satisfying read. As a pretty straightforward book, it also made for a good break since the next few books I have lined up on my TBR are all heavy fantasy or very highly anticipated novels. I’m looking forward to reading more of Rebecca McLaughlin’s works in the future.
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!