Series: Red Queen #1
Published by Orion on February 10th 2015
The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.
To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.
Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.
But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?
Wow! I knew as soon as I saw that beautiful cover for RED QUEEN that it was a book I needed to read and am so glad it did not disappoint. Full of intrigue, trickery, a strong heroine, swoon-worthy boys and a royal court setting – it hooked me from start to finish. Opinions varied wildly amongst my friends for this book so I was nervous starting it but I’m so glad I trusted my initial thoughts and jumped in.
Mare lives in a world divided by blood – the Silvers are the ruling class and possess god-like powers ensuring rule is held with an iron fist. The Reds are bred to serve the Silvers every whim, from back-breaking work in mines, shedding blood on the battleground to serving tea in the most glamorous of settings. At almost 18 and with no specific skill-set, Mare is preparing to be conscripted into the Army to join her brothers and fight the Silvers war. When a chance meeting with a mysterious stranger ends with Mare’s prayers being answered with a job in the palace, she can’t believe her luck. Her good fortune doesn’t last long however when a dangerous incident uncovers a hidden power of her very own and the sharks start circling. Hidden in plain sight, betrothed to a prince so the King can keep rumours under control, Mare finds herself with a unique opportunity – to bring down the oppressors from the inside.
Mare was a great MC; she is very much the flawed heroine which I loved. Growing up, she was never the most talented member of the family, constantly overshadowed by her younger sister and as such felt she had to take risks to be of use to her family, stealing and selling on the black market for instance. While her recklessness at times had harsh consequences, it was clear she was always coming from a place of love and I felt real sympathy for her. Even when her life was on the line when her powers manifested, the safety of her family and friends was paramount and always her first thought. The genuine emotion she felt about her family permeated the pages and at times the pain was raw as she described life for the Reds. Equally I loved how we got an intimate look at both sides as Mare settles into life as a “Silver” and I enjoyed how Aveyard gave us an insight into how life as a Silver was just as cut-throat and dangerous at times as constant power struggles bubbled underneath a surface of strained smiles and artful diplomacy.
I enjoyed the secondary characters immensely as they were mostly Silver which was an opportunity to learn about the powers they possessed. Aveyard does an amazing job of writing such descriptive passages that make it easy for the reader to visualise the stunning fight scenes and the immense power the Silvers possess. Equally she evokes strong imagery of the destitute and harsh living conditions of the Reds and the hopeless atmosphere that weighs heavily upon Mare’s people.
The princes Cal and Maven were firm favourites and I loved each of their relationships with Mare. Cal, the strong, silent type who encouraged Mare’s inner strength when she was constantly barraged by vicious barbs by rival Silvers and Maven, an ever present support who built up her confidence and provided light relief for her in the darkest of moments. Romance isn’t very prevalent in this book which was both a welcome relief especially when I thought there was a chance of a love triangle/square but also a little bit of a disappointment as the plot thickened so I’m hoping for a little more in book two!
The constant threat of a power struggle ensures that everyone has secrets to hide which will keep you guessing and wondering which characters to trust. As the book reaches its apex, it is clear there’s a major twist coming. Unfortunately however the hints become a little heavy handed the closer we came to the big reveal which made it easier to guess what was going to happen however it was still very shocking and heart-wrenching to experience and has ensured an epic set-up for book two!
A fantastic debut, with a perfect balance of epic, action filled scenes, cunning characters, mystery and a creative plot, RED QUEEN is a definite favourite and I cannot wait for more from this author!