Review: The Caged Queen

Posted September 24, 2018

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Caged Queen The Caged Queen by Kristen Ciccarelli
Series: Iskari #2
Published by Gollancz on 25th September 2018
Genres: Fantasy, YA Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

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 Relinquishing, 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.

Since reading The Last Namsara last year, I’d been looking forward to the second book in this series, The Caged Queen. Just before I dived in I learned that while The Caged Queen follows on from the events of The Last Namsara chronologically, you don’t have to have read book one to enjoy this.

In fact, Kirsten Ciccarelli says on Goodreads that while each of the books in the series build on each other and feature the same characters, the books can be read as stand alone so long as you keep in mind that “each book spoils a little bit of the ones before it”.

So, while the first book focussed on Asha, The Caged Queen has a different protagonist in Roa. Roa is the daughter of the House of Song and is married to the new Dragon King (Asha’s brother), Dax.

I had been intrigued by the character of Dax in the first book, so I was pleased that we’d get to find out more about him in book two.

In following Roa’s story, we see life for her and Dax as the new King and Queen. We find out how their marriage came about, as well as the history between the two of them.

In all honesty, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the first. Personally, I saw through a large part of the plot. In many ways, it felt very similar to other YA fantasies I’ve read in the past.

I also found the plot fairly frustrating. I found myself wishing that Roa and Dax would just communicate, in which case issues which constitute a large part of the plot could be resolved. Of course, that’s easy to say as a reader or an outsider looking in, but frustration was my overriding emotion as I read this novel.

Once again, I enjoyed Ciccarelli’s writing, and being back in this world that she has created. I liked seeing these different characters that we scratched the surface of in the first book. Sadly though, there are less dragons in this book!

I also appreciated getting some answers to questions that had arisen in the first book such as: why Roa has a white hawk with her, a glimpse into Dax’s time in the House of Song as a child, and how Roa and Dax came to be married.

I’ve no doubt that this book will prove to be a bit for most. Despite my frustration, I did enjoy it. Although I did find it rather predictable and somewhat familiar, it is a good story and I will definitely be reading the third book set in this world.