Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer
Reading Time: 3 minutes -

Queen of All

by

Anya Josephs

I feel like “delightful” isn’t the kind of word one would use to describe an epic fantasy story. Expressions such as magnificent, spectacular, and dramatic, are more suitable for epic fantasy, but delightful really is the word that comes to mind when I try to sum up my feelings for this book.

I hope the author doesn’t mind.

Sisi is the most beautiful girl on all the Earth. She comes from an old noble line, but now lives in humble poverty on a farm with her brother and a few distant relatives. One day the prince of the entire world sends her a letter and kindly asks (demands) that she be his date to the royal ball (or else), and poor Sisi has no real option but to go.

Queen of All is about Sisi’s best friend and cousin, Jena, who’s short, fat, and ugly, and who no one really cares about. It’s the story about the sidekick of someone who could easily have been the main character of any other fantasy epic.

One would be excused for thinking Jena might be resentful and bitter toward her beautiful and noble cousin, but that’s not the case. Jena really does play the role of the faithful and supportive friend, and while she’s sometimes jealous of what Sisi has, Jena also sees the darkness that comes with it.

For, of course, there is a dark side.

There is court intrigue, drama, and murder. Something is definitely not well in the kingdom, and Sisi may or may not be uniquely positioned to do something about it. Even so, she can’t do it on her own, and more than once, Jena has to sneak out, go places, and do things that the most beautiful girl in all the Earth would never be inconspicuous enough to manage without arousing suspicion.

It is in this way, by focusing on Jena as the sidekick, that the story ventures outside of established norms and forges its own path. Some of what’s undoubtedly the biggest, most dramatic events to rattle the court in years happen off-screen, never to be shown to the reader. Sisi may be involved, but since Jena isn’t there, we only hear about it after the fact, if at all. Even so, the humble tasks Jena performs are just as exciting in their own right – and when she does get her moment in the limelight, it’s all the more rewarding.

What I’ll whine about

The story is written in first person present tense. This nearly had me discard the book once I realized it wasn’t just the introduction, because it’s really not my thing at all. Fortunately, the author doesn’t use it to try and make the action seem more tense and immediate, but rather to put a little bit of distance between the reader and the events of the story, and it works really well.

I’d still have preferred third person past tense, though.

The bad guy. There’s one definite bad guy in the story, but he’s chiefly relevant to Sisi. Since the book is mainly about Jena, the bad guy’s presence in the story is a bit uneven.

What I’ll gush about

The prose. I often call out how the writing of a book is smooth and flowing so as to not get in the way of the story and not call attention to itself. In this book, it’s the other way around. The prose is witty, playful, and confident, and it doesn’t shy away from making itself known. It’s a joy to read.

The concept. I love the idea of writing a story from the perspective of someone who’s so obviously a supporting character in the story of a person who’s objectively much more important. Sisi’s story could have made for a riveting and dramatic tale, but it would also have made this book just one more story of a brave young woman and a handsome prince. Instead, Queen of All stands on its own as something unique and intriguing.

Jena. Jena is just plain fun. Sure, she’s the kind of background person no one ever really pays attention to, but that just gives her more opportunities to observe the world around her. There’s a dry humor in her observations that had me grinning wide throughout the story.

Final Comments

A unique fantasy tale about the heroine’s trusty sidekick.

Find Queen of All on Goodreads.

Leave a comment