In Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen, the Silver-blooded nobility possess magical powers; some can control water, others fire. Trampled under their feet are the Red-blooded commoners, with no powers to speak of. Mare Barrow is one such powerless Red – or, more accurately, she’s a Red, but she’s not powerless. When the king learns of her ability, she finds herself caught up in the political machinations of court, as she struggles to protect herself and her family.
I found the world-building in this novel a bit confusing at first. From the summary, I gleaned that it was a secondary-world fantasy, but while there is a firethrowing king in charge his soldiers carry guns and fly bombers. It felt at first like the book couldn’t decide whether it was a dystopia or a fantasy, but this evens out as the story progresses, and the answer is both. It seems to be set in the future of our world, but where the Silvers come from is a mystery I hope will be revealed in later books. That said, if I had to pick a genre, I’d probably call it a dystopia rather than fantasy, as plot- and world-wide it has more in common with books like The Hunger Games and Divergent than stories like Throne of Glass and Snow Like Ashes.
Perhaps because I read this as an ebook and so lacked the tactile feedback, but there were a couple of times while I was reading that I reached an event and thought, “This, surely, must be the climax”, but it wasn’t. That’s not to say the book suffers from ending fatigue; rather, every time I thought things could get no more intense and dangerous, Aveyard tops that and shows me that, yes, yes they can.
If you’re looking for a fast-paced, genre-bending read, this one’s for you.