Queen of Coin and Whispers by Helen Corcoran
Published: The O’Brien Press (June 1sr 2020)
Genre: young adult; fantasy
Rep: lesbian mc, poc lesbian mc, lesbian, gay & bi side characters, poc side characters
Rating: 2.5/5 🍑
A fantasy novel featuring a sapphic relationship between a queen and her spymaster? What could be better, you ask? Well, actually…
First things first, this is not a bad book. But. Unfortunately, there’s a but. I can see what this book tries to achieve and I deeply appreciate it, it’s just that it doesn’t really reach its goals.
Both Lia (the queen) and Xania (the spymaster) are made out to be somewhat ruthless. There’s a lot of blood and knives and revenge imagery used, yet no real heat behind any of it. It all ends in descriptions or their inner monologues. And yes, people die in this book, often at the hands of one of the girls. Still, it never feels like the stakes are high, like those girls are actually fierce.
In my mind this comes down to the fact that neither of them is properly fleshed out. It’s hard to care about a character and their actions (even if they’re in the middle of stabbing someone to death), when said character seems more like an idea of a person than an actual person. The novel is absolutely packed with action, which in theory should help the whole “show not tell” concept, and yet. So much is going on that there’s not a lot of space for the characters to react to stuff. And for the reader to get to know them.
The writing style isn’t doing the novel any good, either – it’s rather dry and devoid of emotions. It’s literally just imagery (here in the form of pointed one-sentence paragraphs stacked on top of each other) over substance.
The underdeveloped main characters & the plethora of events form some kind of a vicious circle where the reader doesn’t care about anyone in the story due to being overwhelmed with action and politics, but nothing that happens affects the reader due to not caring about the characters.
I imagine Queen of Coin and Whispers would benefit from being a duology, with more pages to properly execute all the cool concepts. I absolutely loved the idea of this book. I just wish I loved the book more.
‘She loved me as I loved her, fierce as a bloodied blade.’
When teenage queen Lia inherits her corrupt uncle’s bankrupt kingdom, she brings a new spymaster into the fold … Xania, who takes the job to avenge her murdered father.
Faced with dangerous plots and hidden enemies, can Lia and Xania learn to rely on each another, as they discover that all is not fair in love and treason?
In a world where the throne means both power and duty, they must decide what to sacrifice for their country – and for each other …
What’s a good sapphic book you’ve read recently?