Title: Queen of Coin and Whispers
Author: Helen Corcoran
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: June 2nd, 2020 (The O’Brien Press)
Synopsis: When teenage queen Lia inherits her corrupt uncle’s bankrupt kingdom, she brings a new spymaster into the fold … Xania, who takes the job to avenge her murdered father.
Faced with dangerous plots and hidden enemies, can Lia and Xania learn to rely on each another, as they discover that all is not fair in love and treason?
In a world where the throne means both power and duty, they must decide what to sacrifice for their country – and for each other…
Aurelia ascends to the throne of Edar following her Uncle’s death and finds that she has inherited not only a bankrupt kingdom, but also a scheming court filled with enemies at every turn. An idealist, Lia begins her rule with the intention to root out all the corruption and aid the common people – but first, she needs someone who can keep an eye on the politicians at court and warn her of any dangers. Xania is a young noblewoman of a lower ranked family seeking the truth behind her father’s death, sure that he was murdered by Lord Vigrante, the Head of Government. Xania agrees to become Lia’s Whispers, or spymaster, to uncover who in the Government is plotting against her. Matters quickly become serious – just as Lia is figuring out how to handle the failing harvest and juggle a court that doesn’t think much of her yet, there is an assassination attempt upon her and the girls must work together to unravel the plot before it is too late.
This book made its way onto my TBR for the year mostly because I saw it being discussed in so many places ahead of its release and there was quite a bit of hype around it. The first thought that struck me was that it was nice to see for once a queen ascending to the throne who knows what ruling is about, even if she wasn’t entirely prepared for it. The plot of unexpectedly becoming a ruler of something, or gaining an unexpected inheritance has been overdone in recent years in my opinion and it was quite refreshing to see this for a change. The societal structure and how the parliament works were also very interesting, though I would have liked more elaboration on the matter. The romance was well written and actually quite sweet and natural, not to mention, well written so it didn’t overshadow the plot.
I usually enjoy books with complex political maneuvering. The plot was definitely there and it had all the pieces to make it really interesting – it just lacked a good presentation in that aspect. There are just so many things going on that I found it hard to establish the central conflict for a long time. There were a lot of things thrown together, several names that I’m still trying to tell apart, a couple of assassination attempts and multiple bad guys whose backstories were never explained. The pacing was very unhurried until the 75% mark when everything starts happening all at once at speeds that I was highly skeptical of, especially considering the travel involved. All the action literally happens in the last ten chapters or so, and the plot is tied off neatly within that too, in a remarkably convenient series of events that would have had more of an impact if the story had slowed down enough to let me appreciate it.
Lia and Xania are both incredibly strong characters in their own ways and their arcs are wonderful though a little more of their history would have been fun to read about. They also had very distinct voices and the narration conveyed their thoughts and state of mind very well. However, I did think that, once Lia knew she would be her Uncle’s heir, it was rather foolish of her to spend the majority of her time in her country estate so far away from court when she could have been seeking allies who would have made her transition much easier. Instead she’s left with a powerful minister she knows she can’t trust, a court scheming to kill her, and a grand total of one trusted friend and trusted ally, Matthias (who, by the way, was very underdeveloped despite the potential in his character). Despite her good intentions and grand plans, Lia is left floundering very quickly.
Overall, it wasn’t a bad read, just that I didn’t find especially unique to set it apart from other fantasy novels, but I will definitely be keeping an eye out for future novels from this author. Even if I didn’t absolutely love it, it was an entertaining and well-written debut.
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!