When teenage queen Lia inherits her corrupt uncle’s bankrupt kingdom, she brings a new spymaster into the fold … Xania, who takes the job to avenge her murdered father.
Faced with dangerous plots and hidden enemies, can Lia and Xania learn to rely on each another, as they discover that all is not fair in love and treason?
In a world where the throne means both power and duty, they must decide what to sacrifice for their country – and for each other …
Thank you very much to Books Go Social for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Queen of Coin and Whispers
is set for publication June 1, 2020
“She loved me as I loved her, fierce as a bloodied blade.”
Queen of Coin and Whispers is the sapphic political intrigue book that everyone has been waiting for. A romance between a queen and her spymaster? A backstabbing, divided court that wants to see the new queen fail? Discussion around the realistic portrayal of ruling and the focus on money? Yes, please!
After the death of her uncle, the king, Lia becomes the queen of Edar at eighteen. She is resolved to be a better monarch than her partying, money-spending uncle ever was, but first, she needs a spymaster to keep an eye on the people and politicians in her court who would see her dead. Soon, she meets Xania, a young woman far below Lia in rank through her best friend and secretary Matthias. Xania becomes Lia’s Whispers, the royal spymaster, as she has great skill with code-breaking and information gathering, taught to her by her now deceased father. The two women must work together after Lia becomes the target of an assassin, but they find themselves inexplicably drawn to each other and soon fall in love …
By far my favourite part of the novel was the romance between Lia and Xania. The two women are stuck together through circumstance but slowly they enjoy spending time with one another. Their relationship develops wonderfully: from uneasy acquaintances, to genuine friends, to crushing, to lovers. Lia and Xania are adorable and so sweet together, it’s hard not to ship them.
However, I did find the plot a little confusing to follow. Beyond my favourite types of novels to read are fantasy ones with complex political machinations, but for some reason, in Queen of Coin and Whispers I couldn’t wrap my head around what, exactly, was happening. There’s plenty of twists, blackmail, political intrigue, betrayal and treason, which have all the markings of a fantastic YA fantasy, but the execution of such machinations was a bit lacking.
From my personal reading experience, I think my confusion stems from the fact that there’s too many characters to keep track of, all of whom are interchangeable and don’t have any defining personalities that they all kind of get mixed up in my head. Therefore I couldn’t follow the plot properly because I wasn’t sure which character was up to what. Again, this is just my personal feeling as I know a lot of people who has read an ARC of this novel have enjoyed the book.
That being said, Xania and Lia are by far the strongest characters and I could follow their decision making and feelings quite clearly. Lia is determined to be the best queen possible that she sometimes makes bad decisions because she’s trying to keep too many people happy: the politicians, the nobles, the merchants, the common people — and rarely do all groups’ desires match up. While Xania wants to make her father proud, and sees herself as her family’s protector.
I think the ending of the novel might be somewhat divisive. I can definitely see a good portion of people loving the ending and the twists and turns to get there, but unfortunately, I wasn’t one of them. I felt the ending was a bit too rushed and came right out of left-field. I’m going to try my hardest to be vague here, but close to the ending, Xania and Matthias must undertake a quest of sorts, which I was expecting to lead into a sequel. But it’s not: this quest is completed within a handful of chapters, whereas I personally believe that there’s so much happening in those chapters that could have expanded into an entire new novel. Despite that, the epilogue was lovely and I liked how Corcoran is determined to show how two sapphic women can live happily ever after.
Despite my few issues with the novel, I still highly recommend Queen of Coin and Whispers. I can see plenty of readers falling in love with this book and I sorely wish I were one of them! That being said, I did thoroughly enjoy the romance between Lia and Xania, and I’m looking forward to reading whatever else Helen Corcoran writes in the future.