Queene of Light (Lightworld/Darkworld)
by Jennifer Armintrout
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Queene of Light / 978-0-7783-2662-5
"Queene of Light" is a book that I really feel that I shouldn't have liked, and yet somehow I did anyway.
The plot is predictably derivative - indeed, I realized a couple of chapters in that I was basically reading "Underworld": With Fairies!, and with a somewhat happier ending, due to the convenient "You Kill It, You Bought It" politics of the fair folk world herein. And despite all the fantasy elements and the book cover blurb, this is really a romance novel with fantasy elements - you could easily switch out the fair folk vs. humans vs. dark world spawn elements with a more traditional kings vs. commoners romance setting, and very little of the intrinsic plot would be altered in the process.
In retrospect, I find it frustrating that so much of a potentially interesting world is jettisoned here in favor of the predictable romance between our two fishes out of water, as the resulting book seems small and claustrophobic - the fairy world seems to consist of little else but a dinky palace and some spas; the dark spawn world little more than a strip mall and some empty sewers, simply because the reader is never allowed to see more, and the impression is never given that there is more world out there, or that the dark spawn strip mall isn't right next to the fairy realm, for all the ease it takes to travel between the two, repeatedly over the course of the novel. Quite a lot of detail has been jettisoned here, in fact - I had to read the first chapter twice, just to get oriented to the relative size of the two main characters (who are both seemingly human-sized, but when your characters are a half-fairy and an angel, you need to tell the reader the major details like size and scale).
And, yet, somehow I liked "Underworld: With Fairies", probably for the same reason I liked "Underworld". Despite the predictable romance and the stereotypical mustache-twirling evil stalker, the fantasy and action elements manage to muscle their way to the front from time to time, leaving us with a romance novel that manages to not spend the minimum amount of time yearning passionately, and as much time as allowed to active violence, intrigue, and mayhem. The yearning elements aren't dragged out to the point of madness, and while the mandatory "we need to make each other miserable for the sake of the plot" shenanigans rear their head, the characters are generally genre-savvy enough to call this out for the stupidity it is, and by the end of the novel, everything is tidily settled - leaving me to hope that the later books in the trilogy will focus less on the 'burning passion' of Ayla and Malachi and more on the interesting inner workings of this intriguing fantasy world.
Bottom line is, if you're interested in a romance novel with some intriguing fantasy elements, I would recommend this book. I generally do not like romance as a genre, and yet I felt compelled to finish this book in day. I can't really recommend it as a fantasy novel, though, because the fantasy elements are forced to take too much of a backseat to the romance. This book really reminded me that "predictable" doesn't necessarily make something bad, but I do think this book won't be for everyone.
NOTE: This review is based on a free Advance Review Copy of this book provided through Amazon Vine.
~ Ana Mardoll
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