The Queen of Blood (The Queens of Renthia #1) by Sarah Beth Durst

Fantasy, 368 pages, published in 2016

Spirits have always wanted to kill humans living in the forest, but there has always been a queen to keep them in check, until they start attacking remote villages. Daleina, who has an ability to control spirits and was able to save her family from one such attack, makes it her mission to help in any way she can.

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content Warnings: violence

I picked up this book because my favorite booktuber Elliot Brooks mentioned the creepy forest vibes (also we have very similar taste, so I trust her lol). I was expecting to enjoy it, but I didn’t think that I would absolute love it like I did!

Immediately while reading this book, I was struck by how much it felt like the classic fantasy I read while growing up (specifically The Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce). It’s hard to explain because it’s more of a vibe than anything concrete, but the writing was straightforward, the story covers a fair amount of time, and there is a magical training school. This made the book feel so nostalgic and comforting in a way, even though the story was fresh, in my opinion.

Time did go by fast, so Daleina starts as ten year old, and by the main portion of the book, I believe she was 19. I normally don’t like this when it is done in books, because I feel like I can’t connect with the characters, but I didn’t really mind it in this case. I’m curious if time will move this fast in the rest of the series, but if it doesn’t, that will certainly leave time to really get to know the characters better.

One thing I adored about this book was the spirits. They reminded me of the spirits from the spirit world in Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra (this guy specifically was on my mind), but way creepier and more threatening. Some where harmless, but there were others that were definitely not harmless. The entire way of life for the people in this forest is shaped around staying safe from the spirits, which I loved.

Daleina didn’t really seem to have a personality at first, which I was happy to see that she ends up struggling with in the book. She vows to go to this magical academy for her kid sister, but she works so hard for so long that she doesn’t remember why she’s doing it. Her emotions toward her family and her life at this point felt very realistic.

The other main character that we follow is Ven, a disgraced champion. He is so bitter, but also genuinely cares about people he is close to. I loved his and Daleina’s banter and how they teased each other occasionally.

The ending of this book was…rough. The series of events that led up the finale was intense and surprising, and the climax itself was brutal.

I am very much looking forward to reading the next two books in this trilogy! As soon as I finished this book, I went out to the only two bookstores near me to buy the next two books, but neither had them in stock. If I had had the time, I could have read this book in a day, that’s how into it I was! I think this book is a new favorite, and depending on how the next two go, this could be a new all time favorite series for me.

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