Title: The Queen of Cursed Things
Author: S. M. Gaither
Pub. Date: September 12, 2019
She’s the last member of a cursed and deadly clan.
He’s the crown prince with a dangerous secret.
Together, they’ll save the empire. Or destroy it.
Decades ago, the High King of Sundolia waged a war that vanquished the serpent clan and drove them out of the empire, reducing them to nothing more than legends spoken of in occasional frightened whispers.
But they did not leave peacefully. Their parting gift included curses that now rest within the empire’s soil, beneath the shade of its jungles, treading through the waves of its seas. Growing more and more dormant as the years pass under the shadow of that increasingly tyrannical high king.
Until Alaya—a girl with a hidden serpent mark who shouldn’t exist—accidentally wakes one of them up. Then another. And suddenly she finds herself near universally despised and feared, a scapegoat exiled from her adopted village and left with no choice but to seek the truth about her cursed bloodline. About her true home. About a power, stolen from the serpent goddess herself, that is supposedly resting in that home. It is the sort of power that could help her overthrow a king, expose the lies he’s told, and put a stop to his wars.
But the closer she gets to that power, the more complicated the truth becomes. The more dangerous her waking power seems. And the more she begins to wonder: Can you still be the hero if you were born a curse?
This will be a spoiler free review. I listened to the audiobook via Audible.
Maybe you remember when I posted this post about a new fantasy rec a few weeks ago. If you don’t, feel free to check it out. Little did I know when I bought and then recommended it to you, that it took place in the same world as this book and the rest of the Serpents and Kings trilogy. I’ve been wanting to desperately read Song of the Marked but if it’s not an audiobook, I rarely have the time.
So In my multi-weekly check to see if it had been put up on audible, despite legit just having come out, I realized that The Queen of Cursed Things was available. I wasn’t sure if I was going to download it, seeing as how I have the ebook that I purchased earlier this year.
But then I ran out of books that I *wanted* to listen to on audio. I’m kind of getting sick of audiobooks but without the time or energy, they’re legit the only way I get reading done.
I’m also quite sick of listening to music while at work, so I’m kind of stuck with audiobooks. But being bored and “out of books to listen to” I decided to finally download this book. I figured that I’d read it, then probably the rest of the trilogy just so I have *some* knowledge for when I finally go into Song of the Marked.
I had basically no expectations going into this book and it’s easily become a new favorite. I already know I need physical copies and I’m almost done with the audiobook for book 2 and I’m so fucking hooked.
In listening to this book, I’ve realized that I need to stop stupid comparing high fantasy books to the Blade and Rose, Air Awakens and Throne of Glass Series, because not every series can be 5-8 books long with multiple spin offs.
But dammit do I desperately wish that for this trilogy. I wish there were more books to dive into the plot a bit deeper as well as the characters. But regardless of that, I’m utterly in love with this book.
It was such a surprise.
I figured I’d enjoy it, like it and want to read the next books in the trilogy, but I did not think I would be an anxious emotional mess while listening to this. I actually found myself anticipating going to work and being able to listen to it. I fell in love with the characters right away. The world is vivid, but the characters are what really hooked me.
I love Alaya. So much. Her journey in this book is hard. She’s an outcast and suddenly just about everything she knows to be true is flipped on its head and suddenly it’s a fight for survival. She’s fucking strong, finding ways to deal with, if not overcome the cards she’s been dealt. I loved Sade and her witty, snarky tone, but also her fierce loyalty and Kian. Omfg, I loved him. So much. He just felt wholesome and good and comforting. But then there’s Emrys. While I love a wholesome male character, who cares deeply; aloof, somewhat cocky, attractive Princes are such a weak spot for me.
They all play such a huge role in this book, on their journey. I really loved how real they felt. The way S.M. Gaither wrote this book, they felt truly alive and tangible. I had no problems believing their emotions, their reasonings and everything else. And I loved the dynamic, between all of them. The clear connection Alaya has with Kian, and her friendship with both him and Sade. But then there’s the obvious attraction between her and Emrys and it’s a sort of enemies to lovers deal and I’m here for it.
And to tie that into Jesse Vilinksy as the narrator. Fucking props. I love it when narrators go all out and did she ever bring this book to life even more. She did that and I was utterly blown away.
Then there’s the ending. I was nearly yelling ‘what the fuck’ at work because this cannot be happening, nooooooo. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good ending, a bit of shock that leaves you wanting the next one. I’m so glad the trilogy is all out, because I would have hated to have to wait to find out next. And as I’m writing this review. I’m roughly 80% of the way through book 2 and omfg, omfg. So much has happened, and this book definitely does not suffer from middle book syndrome. Alaya is fiercer than ever, but now more than ever danger surrounds her. Like the first book, this second one is actually making me anxious and has me so emotionally invested. I’ve completely and wholly bought into the relationships and it physically hurts me when Alaya is vulnerable – but I’m getting ahead of myself.
I highly, highly recommend this book if you’re looking for a new fantasy book to read, or just something that’s good and enjoyable.