The Queen of Sorrow
Note: This review may contain spoilers for previous books in series.
It’s finally here, the final book in Sarah Beth Durst’s Renthia trilogy, and I have mixed feelings. On one hand, The Queen of Sorrow beautifully wraps up most of the threads from the previous books, leaving just one or two for the author to play with in the future. And yes, Durst has said she will be writing additional stories in this world, just not in this particular series (The Deepest Blue is due out Spring 2019 and is more a companion than a continuation). On the other hand, though, I am both sad the series is over, and a bit frustrated by how the story evolved. All that said, beware some spoilers for books one and two here. I’ll try to avoid some of the big plot points, but when one story builds on the next, there’s only so much you can do….
If you haven’t read this series yet, I highly recommend it. The entire premise is based on the idea that everything has a spirit, and those spirits are not only real, they can interact with the world, and they do not like humans. The queens of different countries are in power for her ability to control the spirits, and, hopefully, keep her people safe. The Queen of Blood, book one, is more clearly a YA novel, introducing Daleina and her, well, coming of age story. Book two, The Reluctant Queen, stars a grown woman, Naelin, who already has two children, who has far more power than she lets on. Now in the third story, we see Naelin all set to watch the world burn when her children are kidnapped by neighboring queen Merecot, who has grand plans to save the world. It’s a surprisingly convoluted tale that works out in the end, but takes a while to get there.
We met Merecot in book one, as the incredibly gifted but intellectually lazy contender for the crown. After being kicked out of the academy, Merecot has become queen of Semo, the neighboring kingdom. In book two, she pushed her troops and her spirits into Aratay, trying to get more land for her kingdom’s overwhelming spirits. Now in book three, she has kidnapped Naelin’s children in order to bring Naelin to her, and tie her to the extra spirits as a sort of second queen of Semo. In the meantime, Daleina is still dealing with the fallout from the previous book’s battles, and the damage Naelin left in her wake when trying to get to her children. Something has to give.
The Queen of Sorrow is definitely a book you can’t pick up without having read the earlier novels, since almost every single plot thread comes from the previous stories. That said, it was fabulous to see how it all played out, even if I wasn’t expecting the turns it took. I hesitate to say more for fear of spoiling the series, but I’m pretty comfortable saying if you are a fantasy fan who enjoys YA, you’ll enjoy this. The romance is more subplot with the main action being… well… saving the world. However, it’s a good combination.