Hello! I hope you are having a wonderful day. I figured I'd wrap up the month of July (where did it go?!) with review of a YA book called THE HUNDREDTH QUEEN.
What is it about?
Kalinda, an orphan who has spent her life in the Sisterhood's mountain temple, is chosen by the king to become his hundredth wife. She's whisked away from the only life she's ever known and taken to the palace, where she must fight in a tournament to the death to secure her place as one of king's wives.
But as she's pulled into a plot to kill the king by the element-controlling bhutas (a group persecuted and butchered by the king Kalinda is supposed to marry) and she begins to fall in love with her guard, Kalinda must confront the secrets and danger surrounding her before they destroy her.
You can check out the Goodreads page for the book here.
I really enjoyed the Indian-inspired world and mythology. So many fantasy books take place in a world with a European feel, and it's refreshing to read a book set in a world that doesn't feel like medieval England. The setting descriptions make the world feel alive as you read the story. The writing manages to be descriptive but not clunky, something I definitely appreciate.
The fantasy elements in THE HUNDREDTH QUEEN are really fun, and I wish that there were more scenes filled with bhuta magic. Based on the cover, it feels like there should be a lot of magic in the story, but the book felt more focused on the many layers of politics at the palace rather than the fantasy part.
While the writing isn't amazing, it is quite accessible. The book reads more like a contemporary novel rather than a high fantasy book, so if you are just getting into YA fantasy, I can see how this book would be a good place to start.
THE HUNDREDTH QUEEN attempts to explore the role of women in a patriarchal culture and tries to convey the power of sisterhood. While I appreciate the author's attempt, the message of female empowerment is overwhelmed by the mean girl stereotypes that abound throughout the novel. When the author does try to expand upon the themes of female power through the narrator's thoughts, the book begins to feel preachy, which succeeds in bogging down the already slow-moving plot.
Overall, THE HUNDREDTH QUEEN felt like a book that was trying to do too much. There's a political plot, the romance subplot, the arena fighting plot...and rather than combining to create a fast-paced book, all these elements make the plot felt clumsy. However, the amazing world, fun magic, and accessible writing make up for the stilted-in-places plot.