The Queens of Renthia: The Reluctant Queen (#2)
by Sarah Beth Durst
Cover Artist: Stephan Martiniere
Review by Mel Jacob
Harper Voyager Hardcover / eBook ISBN/ITEM#: 9780062413352
Date: 04 July 2017 List Price $19.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Renthian queens control the nature spirits within their kingdom. Without that control the nature spirits would attack and kill humans. Unfortunately for the Kingdom of Aratay, the queen may be dying with no designated heir.
When Daleina was crowned Queen of Aratay, all the other heirs were killed in the fighting instigated by then Queen Fara. Only Daleina survived. Now, possible heirs are years from learning to control more than one of the spirits, yet an heir must be named to replace Daleina if she dies. Meanwhile, Hamon, her healer and lover, seeks a cure in a desperate race against the increasing frequency of Daleina's periods of false death and rampages by unrestrained spirits.
The spirits can be helpful in many ways such as creating homes in trees for entire communities. However, unrestrained, they will kill and destroy anything that is not nature's creations, but especially humans.
Naelin, a wife, mother, and woodswoman, has the ability to create charms and wards to keep her family safe. Her feckless husband too often forgets to renew or replace these protections. When he learns the queen is seeking an heir, he determines to put his wife forward. She wants no part of becoming an Heir.
Because spirits killed her mother despite her powers, Naelin has decided to remain hidden and safe from the spirits. She vows her children will not lose their mother as she lost hers.
Durst has created a fantasy world where people live peacefully with nature spirits as long as a queen exists to control them. She tells her story from the views of multiple characters, some of which continue from The Queen of Blood, the first book in the trilogy, Queens of Renthia. Hamon's quirky mother, noted for her poisons and Arin, Daleina's sister make a powerful combination and provide a lighter touch. A map of the kingdoms of Renthia is included.
Drust draws a parallel between a queen's duty to her subjects and that of a mother to her children. Naelin and Daleina each fight to protect their families. The third book, Queen of Sorrows is to be released in May 2018. From reviewers' comments on Queen of Blood, The Reluctant Queen provides more depth and heart, making it easy to identify with the characters. There are few surprises because the story evolves naturally.