Skip to main content

“What happens when you take a thief and a con-man, that everyone thinks is a monster that should be locked away, and make him captain of the Queen’s personal bodyguard?”

The Blood of QueensIn The Blood of Queens, Alex C. Pierce takes all the best elements from The Blood of Crows and implements them in new exciting ways to deliver an unexpected yet incredibly strong sequel full of steampunk/flintlock aesthetics, found family vibes, magical mayhem, and thrilling schemes and revelations.

Whereas book 1 falls comfortably in the heist fantasy category, The Blood of Queens would more aptly be described as a political fantasy unlike you have ever seen before, which then ends with the most ambitious and high-stakes heist yet. Our beloved street thief Ren has now been pulled out of the gutter and thrown into higher society, where he’s desperately trying to keep his head above water while fulfilling his role as Warden to the Queen. But soon, he discovers that he will need to use his most cutthroat street skills to survive life in the Crystal Palace, where danger, deceit, and death is lurking around every corner. 

Now, even though I read book 1 right before diving into this sequel, I will admit that it took me about 20% of this novel to get settled into the story and world again. The story picks up only a few weeks/months later, but the twists and revelations at the end of book 1 have rocked their worlds so much that I personally had some trouble catching up to the shifts in these characters’ lives, motivations, and relationships.

That said, once the inciting incident happened, I was fully hooked again. The Blood of Queens might not have the enticing murder mystery element that made book 1 such a page turner, but that doesn’t make the story any less suspenseful. Once again, Pierce makes excellent use of short mystifying interludes breaking up Ren’s story to create a sense of looming dread that will keep you glued to the page. I’ll admit that I didn’t really see why I should care about this new perspective at first, but I came to really enjoy it and I thought everything got interwoven so masterfully in the end.

So while the start might be a bit of a rocky slow-burn, the tension just keeps building and building, leading up to another absolute marvel of a climax sequence that kept me on my toes until the very final page. Schemes upon schemes, new unlikely alliances, brutal back stabbings and betrayals, devastating revelations about the hidden truths of this world; every single twist and turn thrilled me to my core.

In The Blood of Queens, we get a deeper look into the Order, the Inquisitors, the Children and the frightening uses of the magical elemental knacks. Some of the revelations were more disturbing than I was anticipating, but they also filled me with a sense of morbid fascination and curiosity. Themes of humanity, othering, morality, and loyalty are explored in surprisingly deep ways, providing a level of nuance and complexity that I was not expecting, but welcomed with open arms.

This sequel also somehow has even more heart than its predecessor, counterbalancing all the darkness and chaos with so much love, humour and wit. Ren is once again just an absolute joy to follow, especially because he is somehow both extremely cunning and also just the most loveable soft cinnamon roll. He will stop at nothing to fight for what he believes is right and to protect the people who he has let into his heart, which is exactly what makes him such a rootable character, even if he is a bit of a stumbling idiot at times.

Though as much as I love Ren, I also really appreciate that his strong personality never overshadows the development of the diverse cast of side characters. Especially Ren’s ‘adopted sister’ Molly really stole the show for me with all her cool inventions and snarky banter, as well as the guard Owen, whose journey offered some beautiful messages of self-discovery, autonomy, and gender identity. The found family vibes in this series are truly off the charts, and I really enjoyed seeing both old bonds get strengthened and new tentative friendships slowly develop.

Each of these books has such a strong contained arc, and then leaves off with a tantalising tease that will make you hunger for the sequel in the best way possible. If you are looking for an engaging flintlock/steampunk political fantasy with endearing characters, riveting mystery and intrigue, cutthroat schemes and conspiracies, and a ton of heart, love and wit, then you have to check out The Crow’s Gambit series!

Thank you to the author for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Blood of Queens

The Blood of Queens

The Blood of Queens

The Blood of Queens

The Blood of Queens

The Blood of Queens

The Blood of Queens

The Blood of Queens

Esmay Rosalyne

Esmay is a self-proclaimed professional book devourer from The Netherlands. While (dark) fantasy will always have her heart, she is also a big indie/self-pub enthusiast and will probably read anything if the premise sounds intriguing enough. Or, you know, if it promises complete emotional destruction. When not reading books, she is probably reviewing books, talking about books, or watching videos of fellow bookworms talking about books.

Leave a Reply