Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for the review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Book: The Caged Queen (Iskari 2) by Kristen Ciccarelli
Release Date: September 25th 2018
Tags: Fantasy / Young Adult / New Adult / Siblings / Royalty / Queen / King
Trigger Warnings: Mentioned Sex / Murder
Other books in this series I reviewed
The Last Namsara
Possible spoilers for the previous books in the series
Once there were two sisters born with a bond so strong that it forged them together forever. When they were angry, mirrors shattered, and when they were happy, flowers bloomed. It was a magic they cherished—until the day a terrible accident took Essie’s life and trapped her soul in this world.
Dax—the heir to Firgaard’s throne—was responsible for the accident. Roa swore to hate him forever. But eight years later he returned, begging for her help. He was determined to dethrone his cruel father, under whose oppressive reign Roa’s people had suffered. Roa made him a deal: she’d give him the army he needed if he made her queen.
Together with Dax and his sister, Asha, Roa and her people waged war and deposed a tyrant. But now Asha is on the run, hiding from the price on her head. And Roa is an outlander queen, far from home and married to her enemy. Worst of all: Dax’s promises go unfulfilled. Roa’s people continue to suffer.
Then a chance to right every wrong arises—an opportunity for Roa to rid herself of this enemy king and rescue her beloved sister. During the Reliquishing, when the spirits of the dead are said to return, Roa can reclaim her sister for good.
All she has to do is kill the king.
I had the weirdest time reading this book and it left me very unsure as to how to rate it. It was a very different book than I thought it was going to be. Regardless I enjoyed it quite a bit but I still have some bones to pick with it.
Let’s go into why I had different expectations. The first book, The Last Namsara, very much was a book that was set in a world with dragons and where our main character, Asha, had a change of heart regarding the tyrant king. This book focuses on a completely different character that we only briefly met in The Last Namsara, Roa. She married Dax, Asha’s brother and now the Dragon King, for the good of the kingdom. I knew this was more of a companion book of course, but it is also a sequel as it deals with the events after the first book. The whole setting from the first book just felt so different even though it mostly took place in the same palace. But I felt more removed. There were barely any dragons save for once at the start and a bit at the end. And I have to admit that it took me a while to place who exactly Roa and Dax were again at the start of the book.
Having said that though I can’t deny that I did enjoy reading this book. The author has a writing style that flows so incredibly well and it made me fly through the book in no time at all. Even so I felt there were a bit too much summarization in placed or discarded things that I think would have been better served to have those scenes being written out. Like the confrontation during council or Roa’s interactions with her best friend. There was certainly room enough for that. The book is more character driven and perhaps lacks a bit of action in places. Even thought I shipped the characters together from the start, there was sometimes too much focus on that. A constant undertone when other things had priority. There is also miscommunication and the male is of course a flirt of the worst variety. These things stopped me from loving this book.
I enjoyed reading this book from Roa’s point of view for the most part. She, like Asha, is not one to sit on her hands, and is a clear fighter. I did kind of get annoyed with her little whiney bits about feeling a caged queen when she was the one who offered the marriage in the first place to Dax. Dax still likes to act the underdog, but I liked the message he gave of when people think you are the fool to act like it and then play them with super strategy. And one of the things I liked from his character in the first book is that he struggled with reading, that was touched upon again. I think that can be very relatable to a group of teens who might have struggled with that as well. It is something that is rarely talked about and you are often seen as a fool like Dax if others do know.
All in all this is an enjoyable and quick read but it just can’t live up to the first book for me.