I read God Save the Queen in as close to a single sitting as it gets. I mean, I moved around the house, but I read it until I was through. It’s been too long since I’ve done that, and I like it when I get the chance.
The story is set in a steampunk Victorian England that has stretched into the modern day. There are three big alternate races: werewolves, vampires, and goblins. Each is caused by a mutation of the Black Plague. Victoria is a vampire, and she’s been ruling for 175 years. In Europe, those with the full plague rule everyone else. There are some half-breeds that are associated with the fully plagued, but the halvies serve as protectors, soldiers, and other functionaries.
Enter our hero Xandra who knows something is afoot when her sister is admitted to Bedlam Asylum. The sister immediately burns herself to death.
But Xandra knows it’s not her! She was scared of fire! Everyone is being shifty about the death and there are a lot of almost imperceptible stress signals and moments of relief! And the diamond in her tooth was missing! This leads Xandra on a massive hunt to figure out where her sister is. And that revelation ends up putting her on a path where she can trust no one and where she finds that the things she has believed her entire life might just be a lie.
Okay, no might: they are a lie. This is one of those urban fantasy stories where the heroine has to learn a lot of things quickly, and everyone who should have been good is bad and everyone she meets since the beginning is pretty much an ally. Also, we indulge in the “most special girl in the world” trope that’s pretty common to urban fantasy/dystopia style literature. And I’m of two minds about it: on the one hand, does every story in these settings have to be about the person who can absolutely fix it because they’re special? On the other hand: why write a story if the main character isn’t at least a little special. It’s a balancing act, and for the most part, Locke succeeds. I liked Xandra.
And while Xandra figured out what she is and the person that was an immediate threat is neutralized by the end of the novel, the entire story (ESPECIALLY the ending) feels like a set-up for a series. Which it is. Obviously. I’m a little torn about whether to keep pursuing it because the problem with knowing you’ve got 4 or 5 books more is that I have a hard time getting into the hero’s plight: I know they’re going to make it out alive. Once again: not Locke’s issue, but just something I as a reader have to contend with.
Oh, and the very special Xandra has stolen the heart of the Scottish alpha werewolf. So mix in two ounces of paranormal romance into our steampunk-y cocktail.
JMF Rating: 6/10
‘Til next time,