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Book CoverLiviania’s review of Thorn Queen (Dark Swan, Book 2) by Richelle Mead
Urban fantasy released by Zebra 28 Jul 09

I have been wanting to try Richelle Mead because of her Vampire Academy series.  I’m starting to burn out on vampires, but that doesn’t mean I’m not attracted to the mention of them.  Of course, I’m all for the fey.  Eugenie Markham is a shaman, dedicated to banishing the fey and demons from the human world.  But things have gotten a little less black and white for her recently.

Thorn Queen can be read without reading the first novel Storm Born.  I can guarantee this as I have yet to read the first novel and could understand what’s going on.  I would like to see more of her conversion, as she doesn’t take any fey banishing jobs in the novel.  (She does miss one and cancel others.)  Yes, she now rules a fey country and needs to learn how to do it well, but that seems to have happened at the very end of the last book.  I can still see her continuing with her job.  (Otherwise, Eugenie’s shifting mindset is well-portrayed.)

There are two main love interests: Kiyo and Dorian.  Kiyo’s a good guy shapeshifter and veterinarian, doing his best to keep Eugenie from getting too deep into politics.  Unfortunately he’s busy with the imminent birth of his child by another woman.  Dorian’s the bad boy, a fellow ruler who wants Eugenie to become more ruthless.  He also wants her child, since Eugenie or her half-sister is destined to bear the conqueror of the human world.  In many ways, he’s more helpful than Kiyo even though he’s more dangerous, which complicates her choices.

I liked Eugenie’s point of view.  She’s pretty straightforward, but she’s stuck in a position where she has to make hard choices.  (For example, what to do with her teenaged half-sister who is determined to get pregnant – that is, if she finds her.)  She doesn’t have much of a support network in the gentry world, since she grew up in the human one.  She also seems to be the only person who cares about the fate of some teenage girls that went missing near her country’s border.

The climax put me off some, when I found the story to otherwise be an engaging urban fantasy.  It makes sense given the series’ plot, but it’s a – I don’t want to say “plot device” – [thing] I’m getting tired of.  It seems to me like some serious shit is getting taken lightly.  I don’t mean to come down on Mead, who I don’t think took it lightly… but to me, it was a somewhat depressing end to an otherwise fast and funny read.

I am going to try to find a copy of Storm Born, and I’m sure I’ll pick up the next in the series.  The sour note was more of my own issues than a fault in the writing.


Grade: B-

Eugenie Markham is a shaman for hire, paid to bind and banish creatures from the Otherworld. But after her last battle, she’s also become queen of the Thorn Land. It’s hardly an envious life, not with her kingdom in tatters, her love life in chaos, and Eugenie eager to avoid the prophecy about her firstborn destroying mankind. And now young girls are disappearing from the Otherworld, and no one—except Eugenie—seems willing to find out why.
Eugenie has spilled plenty of fey blood in her time, but this enemy is shrewd, subtle, and nursing a very personal grudge. And the men in her life aren’t making things any easier. Her boyfriend, Kiyo, is preoccupied with his pregnant ex, and sexy fey king Dorian always poses a dangerous distraction. With or without their help, Eugenie must venture deep into the Otherworld and trust in an unpredictable power she can barely control. Reluctant queen or not, Eugenie has sworn to do her duty—even if it means facing the darkest—and deadliest—side of her nature…
Read an excerpt here.

Other books in this series:

Storm Born