Me to my husband, “I think you’ll really like this book I’ve just started reading, The Queen of Blood. There are these elemental spirits and they are locked in conflict with the humans. In this kingdom, the people live in the trees. A small village might be just one giant tree – “. He interrupts me, “Do they get around on zip lines?” “Yeah”, I respond. “I read that last year, good book”. He was right, it is a good book.
Renthia is made of five realms, surrounded by untamed lands. In the untamed lands, spirits of water, fire, earth, air, and wood are free to follow their chaotic nature to both destroy and create. The spirits possess an innate hatred of humans and a desire to kill them. However, each of the tamed lands is ruled by a Queen who forces her will upon the spirits to “do no harm” and thus protect her people from wanton destruction. Humans and spirits live aside one another in an uneasy truce. While commanded to do no harm, there is still leeway for potentially lethal mischief. As such, humans protect themselves with charms and the powers of those who have the ability to command spirits on a lesser scale than the Queen.
At this point you might be wondering why the humans settle for this difficult situation. The reality is that the spirits are inextricably linked to the life force of the land. Plants will not grow without wood spirits, rain will not fall without water spirits, and fires will not light without fire spirits. Added to that, when a spirit is killed, a section of the land dies too, all plant life immediately withers and crumbles to rot.
The Queen of Blood is primarily the story of Daleina. Daleina has just enough power to get into the training academy for heirs. Heirs are potential Queen candidates who are groomed and prepared to possibly take the throne on the death of a Queen. While lacking the force to command spirits with the ease of her classmates, she uses her ingenuity to work with spirits’ natural inclinations to get them to accomplish her goals. Daleina is an intelligent, resourceful, and determined young woman and I enjoyed going on her journey with her.
While reading the book, I kept chatting with my husband about it and specifically how all of Renthia works. We sense that there is much more to discover as this story is set wholly in the realm of Aratay, a forested realm, and there are four other realms. Looking at the map, each of the realms of Renthia seems to have a different predominant terrain. As the book is subtitled Book One of the Queens of Renthia it seems likely that future books will be about other Queens and their realms.
Sarah Beth Durst has created a fantastically original setting with a neat twist on magic. Daleina is a wonderful protagonist, and I enjoyed her support companions and friends. Fortunately book two was released last year, we had been sitting on book one since 2016, and can quickly be added to my TBR!