Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Book review: God Save The Queen, by Kate Locke

Title: God Save The Queen
Author: Kate Locke
Publisher: Orbit
Release date: 2012
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Steampunk
Source: Bought from Waterstones
Length: Novel

Description: London, present day - and Queen Victoria still rules with an immortal fist.
She's the undead matriarch of a Britain where the Aristocracy is made up of werewolves and vampires, where goblins live underground and mothers no better than to let their children out after dark. A world where technology lives side by side with magic, where being nobility means being infected with the Plague (side effects include undeath) and Hysteria is the popular affliction of the day.
Xandra Vardan is a member of the elite Royal Guard, and it's her duty to protect the Aristocracy. But things get complicated when her sister goes missing. Xandra will not only realise she's the prize in a dangerous power struggle - but she'll also uncover a conspiracy that threatens to topple the empire itself.

My thoughts: As a general rule, I love steampunk books, and Kate Locke's 'God Save The Queen' continued that trend for me. The story begins with Xandra asking some dangerous people (the goblins) for information about her missing sister. Right from the start, the world-building was really well done, little details being explained quickly enough that I could build a good picture in my head of how things worked, without it ever feeling like "info-dumping".

I enjoyed Kate Locke's interpretation of vampires and werewolves. Through the many waves of plague that came to Britain, human DNA mutated to fight that, and the people who have this stronger DNA become either vampires or werewolves. Interestingly, it's mostly the aristocracy who carry this, so humans really are the bottom of the pecking order in this country.

Although there is a small romance thread with Vex, the romance itself is not a big part: instead, it gives Xandra one more person she has to figure out whether she can trust. He assures her that he's been interested in her for a while and not just because of what she is, and so far we as readers have been lead to believe that. However, I'm still a bit sceptical about what he sees in Xandra and why he had noticed her before the events of the book begin. I hope this is something that will come up again in the second book of the series, so that we might get more reassurance of whose side Vex is on, and what he likes about Xandra.

There are lots of twists, and many problems for Xandra to overcome. There is one thing about 3/4 of the way through the book when she finally understands something about herself and puts together all the things she's seen that I think was a bit overdone. It was something I'd realised much earlier on, and I find it hard to believe that Xandra took so long to make the connections when she'd lived with these world rules all her life, whereas I'd been reading about them for just a few hours.

Overall, I enjoyed this quick romp through 21st century/Victorian London, and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel.  I give 'God Save The Queen' 7 stars.



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