The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross
When her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron.
Growing up in the southern Kingdom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her for such a life. While some are born with an innate talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she belatedly chose to study knowledge. However, despite all her preparations, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true—the solstice does not go according to plan and she is left without a patron.
Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, and with no other choices, she accepts. But there is much more to his story, and Brienna soon discovers that he has sought her out for his own vengeful gain. For there is a dangerous plot being planned to overthrow the king of Maevana—the archrival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. And others are involved—some closer to Brienna than she realizes.
With war brewing between the two lands, Brienna must choose whose side she will remain loyal to—passion or blood. Because a queen is destined to rise and lead the battle to reclaim the crown. The ultimate decision Brienna must determine is: Who will be that queen?
Oooh man. This has some of the loveliest, most visual writing I’ve ever laid eyes upon. Like… every sentence…. every paragraph… was crafted so perfectly. I feel so inspired.
I feel like 90% of the time I come across pretty writing though, the plot is a bit lost. The good news? That isn’t the case here. Rebecca Ross managed to create an utterly enchanting world and a rich, unique storyline that had me turning pages nonstop.
Brienna is a lovely, relatable MC who is taken to Magnolia House (think of it as a small, specialized boarding school) to grow up and study ‘passions’. Normally, you have to have a certain skillset to attend such a place, but Brienna’s grandfather manages to convince the headmaster to accept her, after sharing her father’s true identity (except Brienna is kept in the dark on this matter.)Anyway, passions fall into five categories: art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge. Except Brienna can’t seem to master any of them. She knows she wasn’t admitted because of her skill, and that it had something to do with her heritage.
Anyway, she forms a bit of a… bond with one of the professors, but when the time comes for the students to leave with a patron, Brienna isn’t chosen. Feeling rejected, the headmaster offers her a deal with a mysterious lord. Meanwhile, she sees memories of someone she believes to be her ancestor but is afraid to confide in anyone.
I can’t say much more, but things get interesting as we learn of Brienna’s real heritage and how it ties in with the dilapidated kingdom in the north. She winds up in a plot to retake her homeland and thus mystery, intrigue, magic, and romance ensues! (I will say this. Romance isn’t the focus, but I was definitely sitting there most of the book thinking… JUST KISS DAMMIT. But don’t go into this just for the romance – it is definitely a slow burn subplot.)
Anyway, this was SO close to a five-star read. The only thing holding me back was I felt like things were resolved so easily in the last 30%. Like there wasn’t quiiiite enough conflict and everything kinda falls into place? And while I loved every minute with Brienna, I felt like the pacing in the middle lagged just a *touch*.
But nonetheless, I still REALLY enjoyed it and I highly recommend the read. Right now, it feels like a standalone, but my gosh I would love for another book in this world. I really can’t brag enough about how fun of a read it was, and how immersed I was in the world.