~ Book Review: Queen Among the Dead ~

Published: January 17, 2023

Author: Lesley Livingston

A stunning Celtic YA fantasy adventure set in the ancient kingdom of Eire, inspired by the legend of the first true queen of Ireland, perfect for fans of Shelby Mahurin and Adrienne Young.

In the kingdom of Eire, banshees chill the air, and water-wights lurk in the rivers. But magic is outlawed by the king, and jealously hoarded by his Druid priests.

Neve is the youngest daughter of the king, and Ronan is a Druid’s apprentice-turned-thief, making a living by selling stolen spells. They should be enemies, but their shared hatred of the Druids-and a dark magic that has marked them both-makes them unlikely, if uneasy, allies.

When Eire is threatened by a power struggle, Neve must seize the chance to take her rightful place on her family’s throne, with the help of Ronan and the realm’s most dangerous outcasts. Their journey takes them to the outskirts of Eire where magic still runs free . . . and where an outlaw and a warrior princess might carve out a future with spells and swords.

Queen Among the Dead is a standalone Celtic fantasy that was inspired by the legend of the first true queen of Ireland. This immediately intrigued me as I don’t usually see a lot inspired by queens. The passion in the mythology is very clear in the writing, which was enjoyable as the author clearly liked creating the story. This creation takes place in the kingdom of Eire and follows Neve, the youngest daughter of the king, and Ronan, a Druid’s apprentice turned thief. The two of them meet in a chance encounter that eventually leads them to seek the truth in ancient secrets.

There is a lot of world-building and terminology. For those not familiar with a lot of the language and inspired setting, it does take a long time to try and piece it all together. There seemed to be an unspoken assumption by the author that readers will follow her thoughts without realizing that readers do not have the same background and will need extra “help” to put everything together. While I did not need everything spoon fed to me, I did feel that there needed to be a bit more to help the readers understand it all. As for the pacing, it does take a bit longer than usual for the underlying plot to reveal itself. This style will not be for every reader as I can see some disliking it while others may find it refreshing. I found myself siding with each side in certain moments as I did like the unique take, but I also wanted to have a clearer vision.

Once the characters set off on their adventure, the pacing of the novel does slow down a bit. It was interesting, but I think a tad too long to hold my interest. I feel that a lot of the middle pages could have been dedicated instead to the ending as it was extremely rushed. As for the romance, it occurred as expected, but I am not sure enemies to lovers is the right description. The enemies part was almost nonexistent, which is disappointing as I love the tension. They had good chemistry, but I did not quite connect with the romance. The two characters themselves were complex yet I feel there is still more to learn about them. I think this is mainly due to the rushed ending as events, thoughts, feelings, etc. are all jumbled together so it is difficult to understand them. Overall, this story had a fantastic concept and I appreciate the unique take; however, I believe some parts feel clunky and others fell flat to make this a memorable story.  

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