Friday, 28 September 2018

The Caged Queen by Kristen Ciccarelli: Blog Tour Review!

I am so ridiculously excited to be taking part in The Caged Queen blog tour - I was honoured to be a part of The Last Namsara's too and you can check out my interview with Kristen here!  I loved this book so much and I'm so excited for everyone to read it! 


Series: Iskari, Book Two
Publisher: Gollancz
Format: Paperback
Published: 27th September 2018
Number of Pages: 400
Book: For Review* 
Genre:  Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Action-Adventure, Paranormal, Mythical, YA
Recommended Age: 13+
Contains: Violence, Death, Swearing, Alcohol References
Author's Site: Kristen Ciccarelli

What would you sacrifice for love
Roa and her sister, Essie, were born with a bond so strong that it forged them together forever.  It was a magic they cherished – until the terrible day Essie died and her soul was trapped in this world.
Dax, the heir to the throne of Firgaard, was responsible.  Roa swore she would never forgive him – yet when he came begging for her help to dethrone his cruel father, Roa made him a deal.  She’d give him the army he needed if he made her queen.
Now she is royalty, but an outlander; far form home and married to her enemy.  And even after everything she has sacrificed, Dax’s promises have gone unfulfilled.  Roa’s people still suffer.
Then a chance to right every wrong arises – an opportunity for Roa to rid herself of this enemy king and rescue her beloved sister.  During the Relinquishing, when the spirits of the dead are said to return, Roa can reclaim her sister for good.
All she has to do is kill the king...

 “You can save her, Roa.  You can save all of us.”
She looked up at him miserable.  “By killing the king.”
“By removing the next tyrant from the throne.”
Once upon a time, there were two sisters who were so close, not even death could separate them...
Roa was heartbroken when her twin, Essie, died and her soul became trapped in the body of a hawk.  She hated, hated, the boy responsible.
But now... now she’s married to him.  Because the only way to save her people from starving to death, was to sign a devil’s contract with the newly crowned King of Firgaard.
But Dax is not keeping the promises he made to her.  Roa’s people are still suffering, Roa herself is an outcast and Essie... Essie’s soul is slipping away more and more every day.
Roa has one opportunity to fix everything.  To save her people.  To bring her sister back.  To get herself out of this absolute mess.
And all she has to do?
Kill Dax...
I loved The Last Namsara so, so much.  I am mildly obsessed with dragons (ok, ok, utterly obsessed: I would give my soul for a dragon) and I just could not get enough of Ciccarelli’s world building when I read The Last Namsara because, guys, there be dragons!  And that was why I just could not wait to get my greedy little hands on a copy of The Caged Queen.  And so when it was so kindly sent to me (thank you Gollancz!) I just dived right on in.
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from it, though.  Because it isn’t a direct sequel, more like a following book in the same universe following a newish set of characters on their adventures.  I loved the leads from The Last Namsara, Asha and Torwin, and knew The Caged Queen wouldn’t be focused on them – and would sadly have less dragons.  But from the very beginning of The Caged Queen, I honestly just fell in love all over again.  Because wow.  I adored the slightly different mythology and beliefs, loved the political drama and manoeuvrings, and just fell utterly head-over-heels for the very complex relationship between Dax and Roa.
Those two I honestly loved to pieces.  They were both so much more than they appeared to be, and seeing them from Roa’s perspective rather than Asha’s was intriguing.  Plus their relationship just had me enthralled from the very beginning – because while the two were legally married, it was very much a marriage of mutually beneficial terms and wasn’t built on any kind of emotions, especially not on Roa’s side.  But watching them argue and distrust and disagree and grow together was just amazing and so very brilliantly done.  Ciccarelli is really just the queen of complicated as hell relationships.
Roa was pretty prickly but steadfastly loyal to those she cared about – especially Essie and her people.  She was strong both mentally and physically and wasn’t afraid to fight for what she wants.  She was also totally badass and you all know I love that in my leading ladies.
Dax I just adored. He’s such a clever boy, that one – charming and charismatic and kind of adorable, he really knew how to play the political game.  Plus I just knew there was so much more to him than anything I saw in The Last Namsara.  And, now I am seeing him as someone not the sibling to the narrator, I think I love him. 
I also loved seeing Safire again from The Last Namsara – I really liked Dax’s coousin in the first book and just admire the hell out of this badass lady.  There were also cameos from my babies from Namsara and I loved it.
Also I just have to mention the bond between Roa and Essie.  Because it was just heartbreaking and beautiful.  Can you just imagine being born a twin, as close as could be to one another, so connected you can physically sense one another?  Now imagine your sister dies and you’re all alone, but you don’t want to be because what are you if not her sister?  Do you see why this bond made me cry?  I just felt how much Roa loved her sister, how desperately she wanted to save her, how terrified she was of Essie slipping away from her for good.  It’s one of the most unorthodox and touching sisterhood I’ve ever read about before and I just love the two of them so so much.
Ok I’ve rambled about the characters enough – why do I always do this?  Anyway, in The Last Namsara we got these snippets after chapters – little stories from the world’s mythologies, memories of the characters, that kind of thing.  And I just loved that we got the same in The Caged Queen.  We got to see more of Roa’s homeland and her relationship with Dax when they were children, before everything fell apart.  Plus Ciccarelli just has this way of storytelling that’s utterly enchanting and absorbing and I can’t get enough.
And seriously.  That plot.  Wow.  I honestly did not see a bunch of the twists coming – I blame a certain character for many of them, that wily fox – and I was hooked from start to finish.  Hell, I stayed up stupidly late after being exhausted from uni just to finish it because I just had to know how it ended.  Also I need another book, please.  I need more.
This world... I just love it.  I love Asha and Dax’s kingdom, but I really loved learning more about Roa’s.  I adored the beliefs there – especially about Relinquishing, which was just such a brilliant idea that I’m sure has taken root from some belief in the real world and is brilliantly brought to life in The Caged Queen.  Also just the thing about Essie... it’s honestly enough to make a girl cry.  Two sisters who love one another so deeply and totally that not even death could separate them, and one returned as a bird just so her sister would not be alone.  I really don’t know where Ciccarelli came up with that idea, but I adore it and she owes me a packet of tissues.
So seriously, if you haven’t read The Iskari Series, read it now.  There be dragons and spirits, kings and queens, love and heartbreak, loss and laughter, betrayal and forgiveness.  It honestly just has everything I could possibly want in a fantasy book and I’m really, really hoping there will be a book three!  There’s still so much of this world to explore, and hopefully more dragons to ride.
Please.  More dragons to ride.
I need more dragons in my world, Kristen.  Please.

Star Rating:
5 Out of 5 

Read this book if you liked:
The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli
Before I Ignite by Jodie Foster
And I Darken by Kiersten White

Happy Reading
* This book was received from Gollancz in exchange for an honest review


Also check out Words From A Reader and The Untitled Book Blog because they have more The Caged Queen goodness up today too!


Ah, I love this series so much!  If you haven't read it, check it out ASAP because it is amazing!
Everyone, definitely check out Kristen's website, follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and add The Caged Queen to your Goodreads TBR ASAP list! 


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