Title: The Cursed Queen
Author: Sarah Fine
Release Date: January 3, 2017
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster imprint)
Ansa has always been a fighter. As a child, she fought the invaders who murdered her parents and snatched her as a raid prize. She fought for her place next to Thyra, the daughter of the Krigere Chieftain. She fought for her status as a warrior in her tribe: blood and victory are her way of life. But the day the Krigere cross the great lake and threaten the witch queen of the Kupari, everything changes. Cursed by the queen with fire and ice, Ansa is forced to fight against an invisible enemy—the dark magic that has embedded itself deep in her bones. The more she tries to hide it, the more dangerous it becomes. And with the Krigere numbers decimated and the tribe under threat from the traitorous brother of the dead Chieftain, Ansa is torn between her loyalty to the Krigere, her love for Thyra, and her own survival instincts. With her world in chaos and each side wanting to claim her for their own, only one thing is certain: unless Ansa can control the terrible magic inside her, everything she's fought for will be destroyed.
The Cursed Queen is dangerous and deadly, a story coated in blood and betrayal. Ansa knows she is a warrior, knows she would do anything for the tribe. For Thyra. But what if she had magic? What if she was the enemy? What if she had no way of controlling it?
Ansa is rough and ragged, dangerous. Tested as a fighter and a warrior. A raid prize as a young girl, she's had to fight for everything her whole life. She's proven herself to the tribe, the kills are marked on her arm, and she's ready to fight with them against their enemy across the lake. The Kupari. But it's never that simple, and what follows for Ansa is something she struggles to hide. The fire and ice that come from her is unnatural. It's dangerous. She struggles to control it. And when the tribe is in danger, when they travel closer to Thyra's deceitful uncle and his twisted schemes, Ansa finds herself lost. Losing control at every turn.
It's not hard to see where this book takes place alongside The Impostor Queen. When the Valtia sails out towards the Krigere ships, when the coronation goes wrong. While Elli is lost in confusion and panic, when she runs, Ansa is struggling to control what she thinks is a curse laid upon her. It's interesting, seeing this other side of the story, a different part of this world. Different groups and cultures have their own customs, their own grudges and battles. It was also interesting to see the social structure of the Krigare, the couples made up of one fighter and one smith and nurturer. Couples that weren't always made up of one man and one woman. How Ansa and Thyra struggled with their relationship not because they were both women, but because if they became a pair, one would have to stop being a warrior. I thought their relationship was complicated and honest, tugging at them when their instincts pushed them a different way.
As someone who enjoyed the first book, I was intrigued by this. Seeing the other side was welcome. There's always more than one story to be told in a battle, in a war. In an uprising and a rebellion. I do think that the story does drag at times, full of Ansa's worries and anger, full of different layers of plots and plans and spies. Ansa has trust issues, a lot of them. She wants to be needed by Thyra, trusted by her. Loved by her as Ansa loves her. I can see why Thyra does what she does, but there were times when I felt that their arguing and stubbornness slowed down the story. Knowing that there will be a third book, I'm very curious as to where it will go. What will happen to Ansa and Elli. Both have enemies they must face, and I'm thinking they'll have to come together in order to defeat them.
(I received an advance copy of this title from Simon & Schuster Canada.)