Rating (out of 5): 4 stars
Note: We always go for spoiler-free here, but this review will assume you’ve read the first Dark Swan novel Storm Born. If you haven’t, please check out that review instead.
In Storm Born (Dark Swan #1), Eugenie learned who she was and who some say she’s supposed to be. Thorn Queen is about her making choices and really accepting her new role as a part of the gentry world. Before her blood and her heritiage tied her to the faeries’ Otherworld, but now, she’s bound to the land as the Queen of the Thorn Land.
She would like to ignore it, but her changing of Aeson’s geography to that mirroring the Southern Arizona desert has left the people of the Thorn Land without knowledge to survive. She wants to help her people — show them how to live in the desert, find water. Plus, now a part of her being is tied there. The both she and the land suffer when apart.
It’s her drive to help the people of the Thorn Land that brings out the main investigation in Thorn Queen. She learns someone is kidnapping gentry girls, but only from her border towns. And her quest to find them and punish the culprits leads to a very dark place, broken allegiances, broken trust and a soul in need of mending. Richelle Mead has never been one to pull the emotional punches.
Some of Thorn Queen is both incredibly heavy and undeniably dark. You love Mead’s characters enough to go through the pain with them, and see brighter horizons later. (Ooo, ominous without being spoilery. Scared yet?)
We must, of course, add relationship drama on top. Kiyo continues to want her to cut ties with the gentry, the Otherworld and most of all her magic. His disapproval is all the more difficult to bear as he spends much of the time with his former lover the Willow Queen as he prepares to have his child. (Fret not, Team Dorian, he offers aid and friendship to Eugenie with plenty of innuendo.)
Dark urban fantasy fans will love the action in this one including big battles, power struggles and Eugenie brewing storms. Amid all that fighting emotions run high, and setting up a kingdom is emotionally taxing especially when your boyfriend is gone all the time.
If you liked the first book, expect to love finding out how Eugenie tries to balance her human life with the new role as queen in Thorn Queen. (And complications with Kiyo and Dorian will keep your head spinning.)
Sexual content: Sex, rape (focus is on the emotional side)