Published by Page Street on May 8, 2018
The Above and the Under have a tenuous truce that is shattered after the death of both their respective rulers. Gemma, the new queen of Under, must throw history aside and team up with Tollan, the heir to the Above throne, in order to take down a power that seeks to rule them all.
Their group of rebels is comprised of an assassin, a sex worker, and a palace servant from Above, and we follow their unique perspectives as they are forced to question previously held beliefs. But even with war looming, romance still grows. Challenging gender roles and the expectation that every prince must have a princess, Tollan discovers love with Elam—a young man, a sex worker, and one of Gemma’s closest friends.
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I was really excited and honored to receive an ARC of The Queen Underneath from Page Street Publishing. The cover is absolutely stunning (I believe on the finished copy there is gold foil) and the story sounded really intriguing. After reading the synopsis, I was already imagining the two kingdoms of Above and Under, thrown into turmoil and forced to work together to save their people. Unfortunately, I was left incredibly disappointed.
The biggest issue with this book is that an opportunity for amazing world building was completely lost. The kingdoms of Above and Under sound so interesting, but the reader is never given a clear picture of the world. There were tunnels leading from Under to Above, so is Under really underground? There are mentions of the sky and docks in Under, so is it above ground? Is Above at the top of a mountain and Under is in a valley? I honestly have no idea, and from the way this book was written, I’m not sure the author even knows.
In addition to the confusion regarding the world, there were numerous other plot holes and tons of missing information regarding the history of the area and how the kingdoms came to be. There was a glossary in the back of the book which explained many things that were mentioned throughout the book. I didn’t bother reading it. The book was less than 300 pages. There was PLENTY of room for embellishment and there should have been absolutely no need for extra explanation in the back of the book. If you are too lazy to figure out how to include information about the world in your book, I am too lazy to read your glossary.
Another thing that really bothered me about this book was the really unnecessary sex scenes. I am not a fan of sex in my books, but I will never hold it against the book if sex is included. The sex scenes in this book were just a mess, however. They were ill-timed, popping up at random times that didn’t fit with where the plot was going. They were vulgar and crude and incredibly awkward. Readers should not be cringing and feeling mortified on behalf of the characters. That is not sexy or entertaining at all.
Unfortunately, The Queen Underneath was both one of the biggest disappointments I have read this year and one of the worst books I have read in a while. I usually try not to be this harsh, but I truly don’t think I would recommend this book to anyone. There are a million other fantasy books out there that are more worth your time. From beginning to end, this book displayed clear signs of writing skills that have not been developed and editing that is too lazy to push the author to improve. I will not be picking up any future books by this author and I will probably be pretty wary of the quality of books coming from this publishing house.
When everything is a mess…..
…..blame it on the books.