(The House of Arkhangel'sk #1)
by Jane Kindred
by Jane Kindred
Paperback: 448 Pages
Publication: May 15, 2012 by Entangled Select
Heaven can go to hell.
Until her cousin slaughtered the supernal family, Anazakia’s father ruled the Heavens, governing noble Host and Fallen peasants alike. Now Anazakia is the last grand duchess of the House of Arkhangel’sk, and all she wants is to stay alive.
Hunted by Seraph assassins, Anazakia flees Heaven with two Fallen thieves—fire demon Vasily and air demon Belphagor, each with their own nefarious agenda—who hide her in the world of Man. The line between vice and virtue soon blurs, and when Belphagor is imprisoned, the unexpected passion of Vasily warms her through the Russian winter.
Heaven seems a distant dream, but when Anazakia learns the truth behind the celestial coup, she will have to return to fight for the throne—even if it means saving the man who murdered everyone she loved. are hopelessly outnumbered. But there are more things in Heaven and Earth than any of them have dreamt of, and those they cannot see will mean the difference between victory and losing everything.
◆ A copy was provided by Entangled Publishing for review ◆
The Fallen Queen is not your classic Good versus Evil story. It isn't simply about Heaven being overrun evil forces and the ousted heir apparent rallying the good to fight back. Though evil reigns on the throne and seeks to kill Anazakia so that she cannot take back her rightful place, those who should side with her are glad to see her family dead and gone while those who should hate her fight for her. I love the complexity of the world building and plot development. It makes it that much harder to predict what's going to happen next, and I'm happy to say that the story continued to surprise me from start to finish.
The story is slow to start. At first, I was completely lost and had no idea what was going on, even after Anazakia's nursemaid puts her in the care of Belphagor and Vasily, hoping the demons can hide her from the ones who killed her family, and though there is a fair amount of telling going on. It isn't until the pieces come together that I could understand the storyline. For the most part, there is a lot of waiting involved in between the running and fighting. It would have been nice to get more world building worked into the context, as I found myself lost several times because I didn't know the world adequately to piece together the situation, though we do get to learn more about the characters during the waiting periods. The story gets better once the pace picks up and the plot gets moving. I have to mention that I love the battles scenes. As graphic as they are, I like how they portray the brutal realities of battle and don't romanticize it.
Anazakia and her friends are interesting characters. They have likable personalities. A sheltered Grand Duchess, Anazakia is naive and gullible and sometimes resembles a damsel in distress, particularly after she learns of the massacre of her family. However, she also has heart, and that's what won me over. She isn't afraid to put her life on the line to help her comrades or to give her opinion on matters. Though she didn't bother getting into politics before, she has the makings of a ruler within her. Belphagar and Vasily, the demons who shelter her, are two characters brimming with life and personality. Belphagar is the hot conniving one who only likes men. He's the one who accepts the mission to protect Anazakia; though he initially does it for the money, they develop a good relationship, though they tend to quarrel. Vasily is the nice one and has a certain characteristic about him that makes the other two want to protect him. Amongst the three of them, complex relationships develop.
Overall, The Fallen Queen does what I expect a first novel to do. It introduces the characters and sets up the initial conflict, giving it somewhat of a resolutions while teasing readers with the promise of greater conflict to come. I love the characters, and I'm interested in seeing where the story takes us.