Review: The True Queen, by Zen Cho

Hello everybody! I’m back from holiday, I’ve worked through all of my pre-written blog posts and I’m ready to dive back into the world of blog reviews. Believe me, I’ve read a lot over the past few weeks.

And one of the first books I want to rave about is The True Queen.

I like this book so much because it’s quite unconventional. Cho’s writing style is striking: rich, descriptive and lush. At the start, it’s a bit jarring. When you get into the swing of things, though, it’s perfectly suited to a story where magic, historical fantasy and the exotic all swirl together like a melting pot. And though it’s a sequel, you absolutely don’t need to read the first book (Sorcerer to the Queen) to enjoy it.

The True Queen tells the story of two sisters, Sakti and Muna, who wash up on the shores of Janda Baik, an island in Malaysia, and are taken in by a powerful sorceress. Both of them have been cursed, both have no memory, and the only way to save them is to undertake a journey across Fairy to Regency England, where the Sorceress Royal is establishing an academy for women to learn magic.

First and foremost, this is a book about sisterhood (yay!). Sakti and Muna’s close relationship, and obvious love for each other, is lovely to read about, but what’s even better is Muna’s growing friendship with Henrietta (who is, incidentally, awesome), a witch who has to hide her magical powers from her family due to society’s dislike of magical women (sad and sexist but unfortunately historically probably quite accurate). The True Queen is a book about female power, with all the men relegated to the sidelines as the women get on with the important business of saving the day.

I absolutely love Cho’s worldbuilding, too. The adventures that Sakti, Muna and Henrietta go on are crammed to the gills with imaginative twists on fantasy, historical fiction and more besides. Whether you’re in Janda Baik, the world of fairy (which you gradually learn more and more about) or Regency England, Cho’s writing is always surprising, and always delightful. I particularly enjoyed the inclusion of Rollo, a dragon who speaks like a rake from a romantic novel, as well as Cho’s magical lore: spirits, absorbing magic by eating magical artefacts, and a vindictive fairy queen.

With all that in mind, the plot bounces along from beat to beat, tying in a hefty amount of subplots and threads with remarkable skill. It’s never boring, and though the plot twist might prove a tad obvious, that doesn’t in the slightest detract from enjoying the book. And really, it’s the romantic conclusion at the very end of the novel that proves the most satisfying. In short? Read it!

What do you think? Have you read The True Queen? Why not leave a comment and let’s get chatting 🙂


One thought on “Review: The True Queen, by Zen Cho

  1. Pingback: The Mid-Year Freakout Tag! – The Roaring Bookworm

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