There has rarely been a book that I’ve heard as much buzz about from authors whose judgement I trust as there has been for Queen of Coin and Whispers by Helen Corcoran. I already wrote about it in my Hype Post for April, so I obviously jumped at the chance to read this gem early, and could not put it down until I finished. All the praise is warranted, and I hope Helen gets all the success that she deserves once this wonderful book comes out on June 1st [moved release date due to COVID]!
Many thanks to Netgalley and O’Brien Press for the advance reading copy in exchange for this honest review.
RELEASE DATE: 01/06/20
STAR RATING: 4.5/5 ✶
SUMMARY: When Lia, an idealistic queen, falls for Xania, her new spymaster – who took the job to avenge her murdered father – they realise all isn’t fair in love and treason.
Lia won’t mourn her uncle: he’s left her a bankrupt kingdom considered easy pickings by its neighbours. She’s sworn to be a better ruler, but if she wants to push through her reforms, she needs to beat the Court at its own games. For years, Xania’s been determined to uncover her father’s murderer. She finally gets a chance when Lia gives her a choice: become her new spymaster, or take a one way trip to the executioner’s axe. It’s an easy decision.
When they fall for each other, their love complicates Lia’s responsibilities and Xania’s plans for vengeance. As they’re drawn together amid royal suitors and new diplomats, they uncover treason that could not only end Lia’s reign, but ruin their weakened country. They must decide not only what to sacrifice for duty, but also for each other. (from O’Brien Press)
OPINIONS: Three queer teenagers against the rest of the world. What more is there to want? And, oh, they don’t have magic or anything, their superpowers are brains, logic and spy-craft in a medieval-level second world setting. Lia, Xania and Matthias are amazing lead characters for a novel and damn, I need more!
The world-building is strong with this one, and while I was worried that I went into Queen of Coin and Whispers with expectations too many expectations, they were entirely warranted. This is not to say that the book is without its flaws – in parts it feels like issues get resolved too quickly on a psychological level and in some instances trust, at least superficial trust, gets established very soon. I guess what I mean to say is that I wish that it was paced slower, allowing for even more focus on the wonderful, multi-dimensional characters. But then, I’m weird and I like slower books.
And oh, I’m here for all the wonderful sapphic books coming out in 2020. The nuanced portrayals of consent and developing relationships between ladies, in worlds where there is no inherent judgement about same-sex relationships (apart from the obvious issues about heirs, but that is a different matter altogether) is refreshing. I’m not sure if it has to do with the nature of FF relationships, or if writers of heterosexual romanced have simply not made it past toxic masculinity yet, but the depicted relationships are on much more even footing and serve as better role models for the teens the YA. People actually talk things out!
Back to the reasons why Queen of Coins and Whispers is great. There is a learning curve! Neither Lia nor Xania start out being great at their jobs or knowing everything – they have to figure out how the position works, how to navigate it and learn to get good at what they do. They make mistakes, they do better next time. And the writing is great. It does not let you escape the lavishly built world until the very end. In short, I need more. And you need this book in your life. Add it on Goodreads here, and pre-order it from Hive, Waterstones, Book Depository, or preferably, your indie of choice.