Review by Sarah Nicholson
Mare Barrow has a terrible life. Her brothers are conscripted into the never-ending war for the King of Norta and by her next birthday she will be too. Poor, desperate, and willing to do anything to keep her family alive, Mare sets out to steal enough to buy her freedom, but fate has other plans. The world is divided between the Silvers and the Reds. Those with Silver blood have abilities; stealth, metal manipulation, the ability to invade the minds of others, incredible strength, able to heal immediately, Silvers are as beautiful as they are deadly and they rule everything. Those with Red blood, are plain. There are servants and cannon fodder for the Silver’s never-ending war with the neighboring Lakelanders.
Mare is a Red. Mare can control electricity. Mare should not exist. When the Queen finds out about Mare’s extraordinary talents she is launched into the den of the people she hates the most. Now forced to hide her Red blood at all costs, or risk her family’s safety from the wrath of the Queen, Mari must fight not only for her own freedom, but for all the Reds.
Thus begins the first of four books in the Red Queen Series by Victoria Aveyard. This young adult fantasy novel has everything that makes the genre popular-- conflicts, love interests, cliff hangers, and plot twists that keep make you want to devour all the novels as fast as they come out. Aveyard has even included two novellas in the series, Queen Song and Steel Scars. These latest installments that show backstories for two of the series minor characters and tide fans over until the final book in the series comes out. While novella’s serve as nice supplements between the larger books they also provide a good opportunity for authors. When you start writing a world building series, like the Red Queen, you have to consider the back stories of every character, even if you know that information will never make it into the main novel of series. All that work, never seeing the light of day can be a tragedy, so novellas offer the perfect win-win for author and audience. Queen Song follows the story of the Queen Coriane, the first queen of King Tiberias, and her short reign in Norta. Steels Scars likewise follows the backstory of Captain Farley, a leader in the Red resistance. Both stories give us details we would otherwise be forced to speculate on. The novellas let us understand the decisions of the characters in the main series better and give us hope for better outcomes in the present situations, by viewing the past.
The Red Queen series is a full-fledged fantasy that both readers and aspiring writers can enjoy and learn world-building technique from. The last book of the quartet is due out in 2018. Current reading order for the series is Red Queen, Glass Sword, Cruel Crown (physical print of both novella’s), King’s Cage.