Queens of Fennbirn
The Young Queens and The Oracle Queen
by Kendare Blake
Queens of Fennbirn was a gem I found while waiting for the last book, Five Dark Fates to be published- I ended up not reading it until I was done with the series. It is one book containing the novellas The Young Queens and The Oracle Queen. I was happily surprised with this addition to the series, and that I waited to read it.
The Young Queens takes us back to the birth of our girls: Mirabella, Arsinoe, and Katherine. We get to meet their mother, Camille who was a poisoner queen. When I read this, I was surprised that she was a poisoner, because after the series I had developed a very clear dislike for the whole poisoner family. After reading this short and getting to know Camille and what she endured at the hands of the poisoners, it made perfect sense as to why I had felt the way I did. Camille herself, hated the poisoners that raised her and rightfully so based on how she was treated. In this story we get to see the moment that it was decided to hide Arsinoe as a poisoner and replace her with Katherine. During this moment I felt a pang of sympathy for Katherine, and a little anger with Camille, as she basically disregarded Katherine as a weak queen with no chance at the throne. She wanted to save Arsinoe the abuse and to end the poisoner reign-and she was doing this at the expense of one of her own children. If I had not already read the series, I wouldn’t have felt this strongly as I was already attached to the little queens.
This story allows us to see the Queens as babes, growing up and in the Black Cottage raised by Willa, who was by Camille’s side during her pregnancy and haunting birth. They loved each other as sisters do, had their own personalities and were really a bonded threesome. We are privy to the fact that Mirabella was said to be “the Chosen Queen” since birth, named so by her own mother, and brought up that way by Willa. This was lost on her two sisters, as they were all allowed to play and be free, but in the spare moments, or while Arsinoe and Katherine napped, Willa would teach Mirabella things a Queen should know-about her kingdom, her land, and her people. She was groomed from birth to be the Queen Crowned.
We were able to meet young Jules Milone, and she was a spit fire from jump-brave, courageous and strong. We meet our High Priestess Luca at a young age, Natalie, and many young versions of each of the families. We see how the bonds are forged between our young queens and the families and mentors they are raised with and who will fight for them . At the Claiming Ceremony- where the young queens are literally pulled apart from each other’s arms and dragged away by their elemental new families- I felt sick to my stomach. The writing was superb and I felt like I was right there, wanting to fight for them-and devastated as I already knew each of our Queens fates.
This is an amazing piece, tying all of the Queens to their families and companions, shedding just enough light to help you understand the relationships prior to the separation of the girls, to the bonds that just won’t break throughout the series. I am so glad I read this, and I would strongly suggest not reading this until you are done with the entire series.
The Oracle Queen was an intriguing piece, taking place 500 years prior to our girls series. We know after reading the series that all queens born with the gift of sight are taken and drown, although it was never explained fully- just that the last oracle queen was mad. Well, this my friends is the story of that exact queen. Elsabet is the Queen Crowned. A Queen with the gift of Sight, who is trying to make her mark early and help with the rule of her country, is not loved by all.
Elsabet, trying to unite the Black Council with her choices, has done just the opposite. She has more enemies than she knows-and she is aware of some. She is infatuated with her King Consort, who for a very short time I thought I liked…you can read in between the lines there. She is constantly tested, as though because she is a “seer” she should “know” certain things. This also makes her doubt herself constantly, as well as if the Goddess is still with her. She is lucky to have a very small number of people she can trust, and they love and believe in her.
Elsabet is a smart Queen, and once she realizes things are amiss, she puts her people in action, and finds out the heartbreaking truth, that those around her have been stunting her gift with poisons-(even 500 years ago the Arrons are despicable!), plotting against her, and the ultimate betrayal- an actual relationship with her King Consort, now spy for those against her. Elsabet puts her plan in motion to call out the traitors, banish her consort, and end the betrayals with lives if necessary.
Sadly, Elsabet is just one step behind. The two council members who appear to be at each other’s throats, work together swiftly. Every loyal person and friend that tried to protect Elsabet are brutally struck down, in some cases innocent family members, but more so two ENTIRE families that were loyal to the queen and had proof of the treason against her, were murdered. EVERY, SINGLE ONE. And with a snap of the fingers, the Crowned Queen Elsabet, is arrested, confined to her beautiful towers, and labeled as the Mad Queen. She is kept there, with her King Consort forced upon her once a year, during the Beltane fires, to fulfill her one duty left- to birth her triplets. Not only was she sentenced, but every seer queen was sentenced to death from there on out- FOREVER, BASED ON A LIE.
This is the story of the dirtiest politics I have read in a long, long, time. My heart ached for her, her triplets, and every seer queen going forward.
Kendare Blake has the unique gift to literally bring you into her world, like you are apart of it. It is magickal storytelling to be sure. The only advice that I give readers new to her world, is to read a little slower, and really make sure you take the time to understand the lands, the families, and who is who. If you rush through it, you will do yourself the disservice of not connecting to these characters in the way that Blake makes possible.
About the Author:
Jade Perri is the owner and founder of Embrace Your Path. Jade is an eclectic Witch, who has been practicing for more than 10 years and offers guidance on an array of topics. She specializes in the art of divination. She is an enthusiastic teacher and offers classes and certification in many different areas. She also holds a special interest in animal communication and handmade custom poppets. She is an avid reader and her passion is the fantasy and British historical fiction genres. She is also the mother of two children, and likes to spend time with her husband.