A fun YA Fantasy re-telling of the legend of Camelot, and the relationship between King Arthur and Guinevere.
I love a good re-telling, and I’m a big fan of Kiersten White. (Full disclosure – I work with her super nice husband Noah, but that doesn’t influence my opinions). I also love stories about Camelot, so when I was allowed a chance to read this book from NetGalley, I was so excited!
The concept for this book is great. The Dark Queen, who held dominion over the forests and nature, has been defeated. Peace has come to Camelot and it is thriving. As a result of the war with the Dark Queen and magic, Merlin has been forced out of the city and magic is banned. Anyone found practicing magic is banished, or worse, executed. Princess Guinevere arrives in Camelot to wed a stranger – Arthur. The catch? The real Guinevere is dead and the woman that took her place is a witch sent by Merlin to protect Arthur from those who would see him fail and Camelot fall.
Guinevere is Merlin’s daughter. She was raised alone with him in a forest. She is not familiar with people or their customs, let alone life at court. Her task of protecting Arthur is already hard enough, but she must also navigate the halls of court and the inherent dangers that come with it. She doesn’t know what is expected of her, and certainly can’t trust anyone. As she finds her way, Guinevere is constantly on alert for dangers to Arthur, and determined to fortify the castle and Camelot with magical protections. Oh, and she also has to deal with the minor matter of being married to a stranger – that is a King – that is a legend – that is a handsome, strong, caring man…
Overall, I really enjoyed the book. The worldbuilding is enough to set the tone, but not so extensive that you get annoyed and want the author to get on with the story already. Guinevere is fierce in her efforts to protect Arthur, even though using her magic physically injures her and puts her in danger. She is strong and brave and determined. But like all of us, she also questions her decisions, lacks confidence and worries about her place in the world. She has to figure out how to overcome her fears and doubts, without letting anyone know about them. She also discovers that Merlin was not completely truthful with her about a lot of things, and there are many secrets she doesn’t know about her task to protect Arthur. This understandably makes her angry – and reckless. I don’t want to say too much more for fear of spoilers.
As is often the case with first books in a series, the majority of the book sets the stage for all of the action to come in the next books. This book drags at times in the middle, and there are places where it feels a bit repetitive. (This is why my rating is not higher) The action does pick up in the last half of the book, however, particularly when she meets Lancelot. The cliffhanger ending is great, with promises of lots of action to come. I look forward to the next books in this series and will definitely read them.
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.