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Stars: Overall: 5 Narration: 4 Story: 5
I adore this series, a nice twist and turn mix of fantasy and fairy tale mixed up just for adults. Jovee Winters has taken her unique view on love, ever after and the struggles to get there, deconstructing the wicked queens to show us their softer underbellies. The Queen of Hearts never really wanted her role, as we meet Zelena, raised without love or kindness, the witch who purchased the infant did so only to use the magic buried within her. And from early days, Zelena has been living a half-life, without love or kindness until she meets Ragoth.
Ragoth is heir to the throne of Drakon, and alternately favored or punished by the gods. After stealing an apple from Zeus’ orchard, he runs off with the treat to wonderland, where he meets a very angry, boastful and dirty Zelena. As children are wont to do, the two reveal their secrets in several successive meetings over the years, and form attachments that are based in friendship and some tender feelings of love. But Ragoth is a temperamental boy, and his reluctance to be steered in productive directions often lead to his changing form into a dragon, all the better to rain fire on that which displeases him. But Zelena is not even remotely cowed by his change, or his anger – in fact the two have a rather prickly relationship that is peppered with boastful dismissals and statements.
Years pass and the two become very different people from what their early connection would indicate. Zelena is cold, calculating and more than self-aggrandizing. Taught by example to become the worst version of herself, when widowed Zelena is barely recognizable as the girl Ragoth once knew. But he’s not had an easy time – since claiming her as a child his lack of another mate and pointless existence without one have made him cynical and untrusting – most of all, he wants to punish Zelena for leaving, for changing, and truly for hurting him.
Can these two find a better version of themselves than the ones that send people running in fear? Winters answers that and many other questions in a story that is engaging, enchanting and full of hope and promise.
Narration for this story is provided by Shiromi Arserio who presented the characters with flair, both as adults and children, with the perfect undertone of hurt, angst, flippancy and daring that was required to capture their personalities as the story moved along. Distinct tones and delivery made distinguishing the characters easy, and the variations in tone revealed moments of reflection, bravado or quiet conversation clearly. Not overworking dialogue, she presented the back and forth with flair, and never missed a beat, keeping the story flowing nicely to the end. A solid performance from this new to me narrator.
I received an audiobook copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
An amazing story for Incredible characters! I LOVED this book. I enjoyed this one even more than the first book of the series!
It always fascinates me how this author backs herself into a corner with a plot so twisted around itself you think, how on Earth (or rather Kingdom) are we going to get a happy ending now?
But she does it! I do love her alternative versions of traditional fairytales and this story behind the Queen of Hearts was no different.