The Wolf Queen (The Hope of Aferi #1)
Cerece Rennie Murphy
LionSky Publishing, 2018
A powerful group of sorcerer women called the Amasiti once lived in the Land of Yet, helping the people around them with their healing, life-giving magic. That was long ago, but just as the Land of Yet is on the brink of civil war between a power-mad Hir and the people he has long abused and neglected, a reclusive young woman named Ameenah discovers that the legacy her mother left her may be older and more important than she ever imagined.
The plot of The Wolf Queen is slow to start, which is okay, given the richness of the opening worldbuilding, but it’s also fairly slight when it arrives. Even when Ameenah is given what seems to be an impossible task, she completes it almost immediately with luck rather than any steps of problem-solving. There are also the standard fantasy themes of the past being an ideal to return to, and of a person’s blood and gender and foretold destiny determining their potential, rather than their choices and efforts.
In spite of how little actually happens in it, The Wolf Queen is an engaging read from start to finish. Ameenah is coolly steadfast in her innate knowledge of her possession of herself, in the face of an entire country’s gaslighting insistence that she owes herself to the Hir, to the resistance, or to the false fairytale that both have spun around her. The setting stands out from the usual medieval-Europe fantasy backdrop, featuring magical creatures based on gazelles and secondary characters who’ve escaped from the nightmare of diamond mines. While traditional in some places, the themes also touch on the range of different kinds of power, and how those that are less violent, more constructive, and easier for the unscrupulous to co-opt and take advantage of aren’t necessarily weaker or less admirable.
Altogether a unique escape into a magical world that comes alive almost from the first page.
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