Friday, July 21, 2017

The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst

Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Pages: 368
Series: The Queens of Renthia #1
Genre: Fantasy
Synopsis: An idealistic young student and a banished warrior become allies in a battle to save their realm in this first book of a mesmerizing epic fantasy series, filled with political intrigue, violent magic, malevolent spirits, and thrilling adventure. Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow . . . But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to prevent the spirits from destroying every man, woman, and child. But queens are still just human, and no matter how strong or good, the threat of danger always looms. With the position so precarious, young women are chosen to train as heirs. Daleina, a seemingly quiet academy student, is under no illusions as to her claim to the throne, but simply wants to right the wrongs that have befallen the land. Ven, a disgraced champion, has spent his exile secretly fighting against the growing number of spirit attacks. Joining forces, these daring partners embark on a treacherous quest to find the source of the spirits’ restlessness—a journey that will test their courage and trust, and force them to stand against both enemies and friends to save their land...before it’s bathed in blood.

Review: I picked The Queen of Blood up on a whim and ended up being pleasantly surprised. It's an unexpected gem in a flood of mediocre YA fantasy novels. 

The world building and setting are the most impressive aspects.  They say that no ideas are entirely original anymore, but Sarah Beth Durst seems to prove that wrong in this case.  I have never come upon a fantasy world crafted around spirits and nature.  The interaction of spirits and the humans around them creates a complex society where humans live in the branches of giant trees.  Aratay, as a society and country, seems almost alive.  

Whether you made your choices with your eyes open or closed, they’re made. It’s not time to regret them; it’s time to live with the consequences.

Spirits correspond with the elements and keep the country thriving, even while their ruthless nature needs to be controlled by the current queen, who holds the most power over the spirits. But what if that queen becomes corrupt?  

As for the magic to control spirits, that is also based around the elements.  Daleina, our main character and magical underdog, is no chosen one with a special gift for magic. She has to fight every step of the way, attempting to be worthy of her country and her powers, which she learns to embrace and shape to her strengths.  She, as well as her mentor, Ven, are honorable and kind people, but are far from perfect.

Don't trust the trees, for they will rip you, rend you, tear you, kill you dead.

The other relationships, friendships, and romances do not overtake the central plot. While this is refreshing and left ample room for the story itself to develop, it did leave some relationships underdeveloped.  

The Queen of Blood is a fantastic change of pace from a cookie cutter world of books, depicting unique ideas and impressive world building.  This is the kind of book that reminds me why fantasy is, and always will be, my favorite genre.


  1. OMG THIS SOUNDS SO GOOD! I have seen this around but I didn't hear much about it but I love books with good world building as it is absolutely essential for fantasy novels! Thanks for sharing Erin!

    1. It is FANTASTIC. I highly recommend it. I was so pleasantly surprised and enjoyed it so much. The world building just blew me away. Thanks for commenting, Anisha!

  2. Glad this one was a gem!! I hadn't heard of it before but finding unique books is so rare. Great review!!

    1. Yeah, I love finding great books by accident. Thanks for commenting, Grace!

  3. Omg this sounds is amazing! I want to read this book so bad but then I thought it kind of sounded "same old" but it's not?!?? MY DAY IS MADE. Back on the wishlist it goes. :D I really love books about queens hehe. :D

    1. It is so NOT "same old." It is anything but! No chosen ones or cookie cutter world building. I totally recommend this one, Cait, and thanks for commenting!