Engaging. Emotional. Believable.
The Hundredth Queen was my Kindle First book this month. Now I will start off by saying that I don’t usually read eBooks – a discussion for another time – but this book caught my attention immediately. The title was intriguing. The cover was pretty and eye-catching. And the description was well crafted, it drew me in and made me ask all the right questions without giving away too much of the plot.
As I have mentioned in a previous post, I have had some issues with reading so far this year, I just haven’t enjoyed it. This book may have just changed that. I read this book in four days, and this is between long and irregular shifts at work. This is partially down to the length. The Hundredth Queen is less than 300 pages but doesn’t feel rushed. The length feels appropriate and I think that if it was much longer it would have suffered from being ‘padded out’. The story travels along at an engaging and manageable pace and the whole thing is easily understood and not buried in subplots. That is not to say that there aren’t any. King uses her minor stories and her subplots to enrich the novel and lead to some resolutions and even more questions that set up this universe very well.
The characters in this book are believable. This is possibly the most crucial part of character creation. Kalinda, the protagonist, is especially relatable. In the past ten years, protagonists have been ‘ordinary people’ who are not all that ordinary. Kalinda is different, but not overpowered. Her gifts are special and she is important, but her innocence and lack of knowledge is endearing and functional, her learning is the reader’s learning, and it is presented in a way that avoids the worst of exposition. Like most literary characters, Kalinda grows throughout the novel, her weaknesses become her strengths, and her strengths are cleverly developed.
One of my favourite things about the novel is how present friendship is. Given Kalinda’s past, her only relationships are friendly and familial. Her relationship with Jaya is immovable. Her connection with Shyla is sweet and tender and comes instinctively. Even her relationship with Natesa has its friendly moments. The depth of Kalinda’s character is shown in how she interacts with the other characters and King does it effortlessly.
In comparison to other Young Adult novels, the romance in The Hundredth Queen is subtle and sweet. The slow burn of the relationship, despite its forbidden nature, really solidifies the characters as people. It is also a wonderful contrast to the brutality of the world around them.
If I had one criticism it would be that I wanted more information and detail about the city and its people. I understand that the minimal detail really binds you to Kalinda’s personal experience and I might be being greedy, but here is to hoping that we will get some more beautiful imagery (like the temple beacon) in the sequel and beyond. I may have some other points to add after a second read, but right now I can only gush at how much I loved this book. I have to give it five stars. And Brac, I think he is my favourite character.
The Hundredth Queen is released on June 1st 2017 and I urge you to read it. If you do, please let me know what you think, and of course, let the wonderful author Emily R. King know too. Her twitter is here. And you can get the book here.