The Nitty Gritty: The Queen is Dead is the literary version of 5 Hour Energy drink with a Redbull chaser.
In her sophomore outting Alexander Varden as been fired from the Royal Guards. Only "halvies" can be Royal Guards and since William outed her during her knighting ceremony everyone knows she is The Goblin Queen. Even if Xandra doesn't.
During this tale Xandra's older brother Val has disappeared In the midst of a trail of vanishing patrons from the devilishly funhouse circus, Freak Show. Its up to Xandra to find her brother while wrestling with the fact that her world and her life has been tossed into a blender and set on high.
Opening Line: "There was a dead rat nailed to my door."
What's The 411: If goblins and Drag Queens get you hot under the collar well then look no further than The Queen is Dead. The pulse pounding sequel to God Save the Queen will leave you panting for more. Weather its for a certain Alpha wolf or his mate the Goblin Queen is up to you. I opt for hte wolf, but that is just me.
The Queen is Dead is a wonderful followup to God Save The Queen. Locke seemed more sure of herself and the storyline in this book. There was a sense of convection beween the pages. Locke was critized for hailing God Save the Queen as a steampunk urband fantasy when the only thing steampunk was the bustles and corsets. Well ladies and gents she took the criticism to heart and managed to flip everyone the bird while weaving in more steampunk into The Queen is Dead. London is another character in this book. There are few authors who can use their story setting so masterfully that it becomes a living part of the story, but Locke manages to accomplish that swiftly and soundly in this book.
All the while she managed to give us a female lead that is both vulnerable and able to kick butt and take names with the best of them. Now Xandra does whine. She is after all trying to come to terms with finding it she is the queen of the things of nightmares. I mean everyone fears the goblins, and for good reason. Xandra quibbles about "gobbing" out and eating a human heart, but she doesn't skip a heartbeat in protecting the humans of her neighborhood. Even as they nail rats to her door and cry out for her head.
As badass as Xandra is, enough that her sister likes to keep a gun within reach when Xandra is around, she feel fear. True gut wrenching fear. Fear for her family, fear for her Alpha and fear of the warmongering humans hell bent on getting her head. Its refreshing to see this side of the warrior woman archetype.
The Good: As an avid urban fantasy reader I am pleasantly surprised that Locke fades to black on the sex scenes. I think writers are using it as a writing crutch instead of focusing on a great story. Yes there is sex in the book, but do we ever see it? Nope. Does it make the sex seems any less hot and steamy? Nope. I used my cheap little hand fan a few times reading this book. I think the not knowing it a lot hotter than reading about Vex pulling on the little blue strings between Xandra's legs. *puke* Thanks E.L. James for that horrifying experience....
Xandra seems to be less whiny in this book which I think is wonderful. God Save the Queen seemed to be a YA book with a fake ID card trying to buy a six pack. Xandra was so wrapped up in angst I was afraid Bella Swan was going to swoop through the pages and dance the Stanky Leg. However Locke shows us the evolution of Xanrda. She finally steps into her own and finds the proper voice for the character.
I am loving the relationship between Xandra and Vex. Its great to see a functioning leading man that doesn't have any glaring character flaws like he was beaten as a child or a friend of his mother's tied him up in her Red Room of Pain (I just finished 50 shades of grey on a dare :( my brain cells are still pissed at me about that), anyways. I like that Vex is letting Xandra be who she wants to be or not be. He is taking her as he can get her and he is giving her all of him. He's also just loving her without expecting anything in return. He is letting her have her own space when she needs it, but he is her anchor when she needs it.
As a woman of color I am often dismayed at the lack of colorful characters in fantasy books. So I am enjoying the different characters that Locke is introducing in her story. They don't always have to be African American, but it would be nice. The God is Dead gives us We have her lesbian sister Avery in a wonderful relationship with a great girl, Emma. And we finally get more of Penny Dreadful. A delight vixen drag queen with a flare for the sexy and dramatic. I would give anything to hang out with her at Freak Show. I am a total Rupal's Drag Race fangirl and I hope that we get to see more of Penny in the coming books. I don't think enough authors are taking the risk to introduce the public to different characters as they should be. Not everyone in the world is a straight white man or a straight white woman, and we would like to see ourselves reflected back at us in our literature.
The scenes with the goblins are exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. We get to see their fierce loyalty and their utter savagery. And somehow that waxes poetic about their nobility. They aren't out to kill for sport or for fun, but they do enjoy the simple things in life like a good shag and a proper smoke. I love that Locke is giving is little slices of life from the goblins and the more we learn about them the more I like that Locke choice to use one of the red headed stepchildren of the fantasy world. Everyone is so quick to jump on the elves, vampires, werewolves and leave it at that. Fantasy is supposed to be no holds barred and anything goes and I like that the goblins are keen on taking us on a fantastic voyage.
As a political science minor at UNCG I do love the political maneuvering and backstabbing going on in this book. Its just enough to have you shouting at the book in frustration and glee, but not enough to confuse you into praying for an appendix just to keep up. Though I love George R.R. Martin for giving us one. I wouldn't have made it though a Game of Thrones without it.
The Bad: It seems like every adult in Xandra's life made it their personal mission to screw her over. Chuchhill was trying to mold her into the perfect machine. To be used for what we may never know since the goblins made a buffet of his offals. Her stepmother makes Cinderalls' stepmom seem like Mrs. Brady, and her father just stands by while the aristos use his children as their genetic playground.
My Wish for this series: I am really looking forward to a Xandra/Victoria showdown. I hope that Vex and Xandra's relationship continues to develop. It doesn't seem like Vex is going to let anything get in his way when it comes to Xandra, but I have a feeling she might try to be noble and break up with him to keep him from harm.
My Final say: Get yourself a copy of this book! Long may she Reign!