Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas
Published by: HarperTeen/HarperCollins
Publication Date: February 21st 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 432 pages
Rating: ★★★ 1/2 (3.5 STARS)
*HUGE thanks to HarperTeen, Edelweiss, and Rhiannon Thomas for the eGalley of Long May She Reign in exchange for an honest review
The Girl of Fire and Thorns meets The Queen of the Tearling in this thrilling fantasy standalone about one girl’s unexpected rise to power.
Freya was never meant be queen. Twenty third in line to the throne, she never dreamed of a life in the palace, and would much rather research in her laboratory than participate in the intrigues of court. However, when an extravagant banquet turns deadly and the king and those closest to him are poisoned, Freya suddenly finds herself on the throne.
Freya may have escaped the massacre, but she is far from safe. The nobles don’t respect her, her councillors want to control her, and with the mystery of who killed the king still unsolved, Freya knows that a single mistake could cost her the kingdom – and her life.
Freya is determined to survive, and that means uncovering the murderers herself. Until then, she can’t trust anyone. Not her advisors. Not the king’s dashing and enigmatic illegitimate son. Not even her own father, who always wanted the best for her, but also wanted more power for himself.
As Freya’s enemies close in and her loyalties are tested, she must decide if she is ready to rule and, if so, how far she is willing to go to keep the crown.
The 1st YA Fantasy standalone I’ve read with an interesting premise in a very long time, Long May She Reign is more than just a Fantasy, it can also be classified as a mystery. The blurb & beginning pages disclose that the King of Epria & his court have all been poisoned to death during his birthday celebration leaving Freya the 23rd in line, the heir to the throne. Freya, a self-proclaimed Scientist who loves to experiment in her lab away from court & all of its politics would never have imagined herself sitting on the throne as Queen. Surrounded by the nobility & citizens of Epria who lost family as a result of being poisoned, Freya’s reign begins on a dark note. Met with opposition, anger, accusations, and suspicions she takes on this task she’s inherited & tries to find answers while also bringing about some much needed change in the kingdom.
When we first meet our main protagonist Freya, she is in her laboratory working on an experiment to self-create heat in your hands. She lives alone with her father a man who climbed his way up the nobility ladder with the help of his now deceased wife. Freya’s mother was of a noble family & was known for her charm whereas Freya experiences anxiety at the thought of working a room. I instantly found myself relating to Freya who is more comfortable amongst her books and test tubes & not socializing. Rhiannon Thomas gave us some of the most common symptoms of anxiety. Those of us who have anxiety know that everyone is different & we don’t all experience the same symptoms yet I was able to recognize & relate to what Freya was feeling. I also found myself feeling uncomfortable with her which speaks to the authors writing & knowledge of anxiety. Freya has BIG dreams which her father & the rest of the world would deem non-traditional. Court life just isn’t for her, not when there’s a whole world of Who? What? Where? When? Why? to be answered. She’s known since she was a little girl that science was her calling. As the 23rd in the royal line, it was highly unlikely that she’d ever inherit the throne. When the unlikeliest of events occurs & she is thrust into the throne, we get to see Freya’s personality unfold. She could’ve been selfish & run away from everything she feared & disliked but instead she decided to rule like only Freya could. I enjoyed seeing her infuse her ingenuity into strategies of war & apply her knowledge to investigate the poisoning. Freya developed strong female friendships within the court which I absolutely loved reading since again, we don’t get them enough in our books. We also get introduced to the King’s illegitimate son who also is presented as a love interest to Freya. I’ll admit to being a bit weirded out by this one…Freya being 23rd in line & all at some point I wondered aloud…aren’t they related? I guess this would be a good question to ask the author *mental note*… I do wish we’d been given a little more background on the King’s son & some of the other supporting cast. I will say though, the characters in Long May She Reign delivered when it came to politics & court intrigue. They had me suspecting each & every one of them of murder & high treason LOL!
Long May She Reign may be at its core a YA Fantasy however, it also fits in the Mystery genre. I was pretty much consumed, following Freya’s science experiments & deductive reasoning. Freya doesn’t have a large court to begin with since they were for the most part all in attendance for the King’s birthday where they ate their last meals. This helped in limiting the amount of players on the board but it also meant that those closest were to be suspects. I had wondered how a YA Fantasy standalone would read since I’m accustomed to long standing series or trilogies but it worked well. Since this is a standalone we don’t see too much world building, instead this book is very plot driven. The supporting characters aren’t really too fleshed out. We do get a well developed female protagonist, Freya was pretty awesome however,her development wasn’t w/out its faults. The Freya we meet in the beginning who suffers from anxiety isn’t quite the Freya we get at the very end. I wondered what happened to her anxiety since I myself am a person who deals with this disorder every day. Then again, as I mentioned at the very beginning of my review…we don’t all suffer the same symptoms or cope the same way 😉
The writing style is engaging, I felt very much a part of Freya’s investigations which I really enjoyed. This is a slow build which is something that as a YA Fantasy reader I’m also not accustomed to & yet it never once lost my interest. I’d definitely recommend Long May She Reign for those bookworms looking for strong female friendships, ingenuity, & a good ol’ murder mystery 😉