Queen of Ashes is the second book in the Black Dawn series, by Mallory McCartney — a beautifully written, detailed world with vivid characters.
Thank you to Shannon of R&R Book Tours for sending me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Queen to Ashes is the second book in the Black Dawn series. It has recently been re-released and has an updated cover, a map and bonus content.
Emory Fae is the Princess of Kiero. She had been hidden on Earth for six years (with her memory wiped), before coming back to Kiero to lead the Black Dawn Rebellion and claim her crown. The Black Dawn Rebellion base, the Academy, was burned down in the last book with many members of the rebellion dead or captured by the Mad King, Adair. Emory herself has pledged allegiance with Adair, while secretly looking for an opportunity to kill him. In the meantime, the remaining members of the rebellion search for allies to join their cause.
I haven’t read the first so I think if I had, this book would have been much more enjoyable and would have made a lot more sense. Unfortunately, I spent the first 30% of the book trying to figure out what was going on and who the characters were. There’s not really much explanation, with the back story told in bits and pieces.
I would definitely describe this as more of an epic fantasy than a regular YA fantasy (as I’d been expecting). Mallory has created a vast world (several worlds, in fact!) that have a mix of magic, magical creatures, history and lore. I loved all of the magical creatures, both good and bad, that Emory and her friends meet in their travels.
There is a huge cast of characters, with each chapter taking place from a different character’s point of view, which makes it hard to keep track at times. There’s a lot going on here, and I think this book would really have benefited from being 100 pages longer just to give some breathing space. It is a non-stop wild ride, going from battle to battle, and switching between characters with each one having their own sub-plots. (And I would have LOVED to read more about this world and the characters — there’s definitely enough here that it wouldn’t get dull!)
There are lots of bad ass women in this book! As well as Emory, there is Lana, Nyx, Riona and Kiana — all of which are strong, fierce and great warriors. I really liked Nyx. Her story arc of trying to redeem herself after betraying the rebellion in the first book was very interesting. She is also really honest with herself and with others about why she did what she did, and is sincere in her apologies and actions to make it right.
Emory is also a really interesting character. She struggles a lot with whether she can fulfil all of the promises and expectations put on her shoulders, which made her very relatable. I also felt bad for her that so many people didn’t seem to give her the ‘benefit of the doubt’ and just assumed she’d suddenly swapped sides to have the power and the title of Queen.
“You lived your entire life feeling like half of you was missing. Fight for the missing part. Fight for this. And she fought. Every breath, every second, she fought for that girl who was now dead. The girl who dreamed of another world, of having a family, of a home. Of a prince waiting for her. Who was never satisfied and had always wanted more than her job, than her friends. She had been displaced, like oil in water. But now. The woman had emerged, alone. She was questioning but regal. Clumsy but deadly. She was lost in a kingdom filled with snakes. Filled with lies not answers. A woman who could kill. A woman with the weight of a revolution on her shoulders. The promise of a better life. One where she might belong.”
The writing is beautiful, it grabbed me from the first page. I love all of the descriptions which are incredibly vivid and the characters are colourful and full of emotion. The prose in Chapter 16 in particular really moved me and was perfectly written.
Overall this is an interesting read. I would love to revisit it after reading the first book in the series as there is so much potential here and it would probably answer some of my questions! I think it really could do with being a bit longer as it’s a little overwhelming with how much world building and all the characters — and that’s certainly no bad thing, as I would love another 100 pages in this magical world!
The blurb for Queen to Ashes
“You lived your entire life feeling like half of you was missing. Fight for the missing part. Fight for this.”
Emory Fae has abandoned everything she thought she knew about her previous life on Earth. Stepping up to her role as Queen of Kiero she makes a startling sacrifice- feigning her allegiances to Adair Stratton, the man who murdered her parents and casted Kiero into ruin. Emory’s memories slowly piece together, and she soon realizes the Mad King may not be all he seems— and the man who was once best friend, may be fighting beneath the surface.
With the King’s attention on her, can she buy Black Dawn Rebellion enough time to recuperate their forces? And when the times comes, will she be able to kill Adair, ending his tyranny and rising herself as the rightful Queen? Fighting to hide her secret, Emory navigates the brutal trials of the Mad King, trying not to lose herself in the process.
Sequel to Heir of Lies, now a bestselling series, the sparks are ignited, as Emory learns the cost of freedom, and her heritage. Will the rebels unite in time? A sinister force has spread across the land, stripping everyone bare- their betrayals, their secrets, their intentions. But above all, what will their decisions cost? By refusing to give in to the darkness, will Emory rise as Queen?
About the author, Mallory McCartney
Mallory McCartney currently lives in Sarnia, Ontario with her husband and their three dachshunds Link, Lola and Leonard. When she isn’t working on her next novel or reading, she can be found day dreaming about fantasy worlds and hiking. Other favorite pastimes involve reorganizing perpetually overflowing bookshelves and seeking out new coffee and dessert shops.
Blog tour organised by R&R Book Tours
- Reads & Reel (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com
- I Love Books & Stuff (Spotlight) https://ilovebooksandstuffblog.wordpress.com
- Vick’s Bookish Writing Blog (Review) https://vicksblogcom.home.blog/
- Librorum In Sepiternum (Spotlight) http://libroruminsempiternumhome.wordpress.com
- Entertainingly Nerdy (Spotlight) https://www.entertaininglynerdy.com
- Gwedalyn’s Books (Review) https://gwendalynbooks.blog/
- Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/
- Bookish Ayushi (Spotlight) https://bookishayushi.com/
- Literary Dust (Spotlight) https://literarydust.wordpress.com/
- The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Spotlight) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com
- Cocktails and Fairytales (Spotlight) https://www.facebook.com/CocktailsFairytales
- Dash Fan Book Reviews (Spotlight) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/
- Banshee Irish Horror Blog (Spotlight) www.bansheeirishhorrorblog.com
- The Faerie Review (Spotlight) http://www.thefaeriereview.com