Monday, August 13, 2012

Review: God Save the Queen by Kate Locke

Title: God Save the Queen
Author: Kate Locke
Series: The Imortal Empire #1
Pages: 368
Publisher: Orbit
Date Published: July 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Urban Fantasy (Adult)
Source: Library

The undead matriarch of a Britain where the Aristocracy is made up of werewolves and vampires, where goblins live underground and mothers know better than to let their children out after dark. A world where being nobility means being infected with the Plague (side-effects include undeath), Hysteria is the popular affliction of the day, and leeches are considered a delicacy. And a world where technology lives side by side with magic. The year is 2012 and Pax Britannia still reigns. Xandra Vardan is a member of the elite Royal Guard, and it is her duty to protect the Aristocracy. But when her sister goes missing, Xandra will set out on a path that undermines everything she believed in and uncover a conspiracy that threatens to topple the empire. And she is the key-the prize in a very dangerous struggle.

My Review:
Three words. Absolutely. Positively. Excellent! If there is one Urban Fantasy book you pick up this year, make it this one. I kid you not, I had an absolute BLAST reading it and thought it was just the breath of fresh air needed for a packed and overpopulated genre! 

You really get the fundamentals of this world through the prologue and description on the back for the most part. Right from page one you are thrust into a bizarre alternate history where the royal bloodlines of Europe have mutated strains of the bubonic plague to be transformed into paranormal creatures. Alexandra Varden, product of one of the aristocratic vampires mating with a human courtesan. Xandra's got a lot of fight and snark inside her, probably caused by the rough and tumble life she's lead. Not only is she a Halvie, something scorned and feared by humans to a point that they will kill even halvie children, but she was attacked by goblins as a child and has that fear causing all sorts of angst and bad attitude to rear it's ugly head in her later years. Starting with the faked death of her sister Dede, Xandra goes on an adventure that takes her through the under bowels of London and has her dealing with the shady side of her halvie brothers and sisters as well as the treacherous upper class. 

Stopping right here, what a freaking creative and pretty logical way of making vampires and paranormals! The royal families of Europe are known to be carriers of blood-type diseases for centuries! (Hemophilia anyone?) It's totally logical to think that a disease that already is known for keeping royals out of the sun and in need of blood transfusions could be mutated into vampirism...the werewolfism I'm not as convinced with, but still it was a really cool twist and much more scientific than just "vampires have always existed just hidden in the shadows". Also, Goblins were a whole new awesome bag of supernatural fabulousness. The only other series that does as good of a job describing goblins is Laurell K. Hamilton's Merry Gentry series and even that series didn't dive into the culture, the mannerisms, the...certain...goble-se-qua of a Goblin society in the way that Kate did...I loved the different levels of social politics. They really amped up the drama and made the characters pop so much more. 

I absolutely loved the visuals you get from this book. There was this kind of punk-gothic feel from the modern day technology and music mixed with past historical figures and manners. I also really enjoyed that halvies looked like Gothic warriors. Because of the advancement of their genes, these halvies tended to have bright shocks of hair in vivid colors. Colors that we can only dye our hair to match like bright blue, red, yellow...etc. So there's this kaleidoscope of colors and people living in this version of England and I loved it.

Not only were the images and visuals fabulous, but the world building in general was amazing. The thing you've got to understand is that this IS the modern word. Only a modern world if vampires and werewolves would have evolved into being in the Victorian era. As in...Victoria and the rest of her aristocrats are vampires and werewolves and they've kept the old traditions alive with them as they've gone ageless through the centuries. So even as you find modern day cars, guns, mp3 players(kinda) and phones, you also have carriages and victorian dress among other things. At first I was a little thrown off because there was a lot to pick up on and you get thrown right into the plot without a lot of time to understand what the rules of this world is. Fortunately, as you grow to understand the who's and the whys, things start falling into place and you are absolutely stunned by how creative and descriptive Locke can be when creating an amazing Urban Fantasy playground for her characters. It's truly a wonderful thing to have such a multi-layered mystery that encompasses such a divided and chaotic society made up of seperate races, species, and characters. 

Speaking of those characters, Xandra is straight up fantastic! This girl kicks so much ass! She's got the tough foulmouthed disposition that is common in UF literature without sounding crass, mean, or rude. She's got jsut enough heart to even out the amount of butt she kicks on a nightly basis. As a halvie, she's been specifically trained to enter into the ranks of the guards (either personal guards or the Royal Guard) which protects those in the aristocracy. Not only is she the top of her class of halvies, but she's been known to kick vampire butt from time to time, not to mention negotiating the terrifying Goblin caverns, defending the Queen from vicious attackers, and of course holding her own against the amorous attentions of the local werewolf alpha. :) Unfortunately, there's a lot of pent up hate that our heroine has and it comes out quite a bit. She hates humans for making the aristocracy practically OCD about protection and hates Goblins for the supposed attack on her as a child. So she tends to be a bit prejudiced when she finds out her family is working with humans 

God Save the Queen is pretty much a mixture of steampunk and urban fantasy themes with a whole lot of mystery, paranormal romantic-ness, and kick-ass fighting scenes. There have been a few complaints from other readers claiming that it is a UF book disguised as a Steampunk one, and I can kind of see their point, but it didn't bother me in the least. Though there aren't many gadgets, airships, automatons, etc, there's still a kind of vague feeling that the majority of Steampunk novels posses which features a Victorian setting, inventive nature, and creative surroundings and fashions. So no...if you're looking for something along the lines of Gail Carriger's Soulless series or Meljean Brook's Iron won't find it here...but in my opinion GSTQ stands on it's own and really blossoms as a wonderful Urban Fantasy book in it's own right. 
I give God Save the Queen an heartfelt 5 Keys! I really enjoyed getting lost in the world that Locke created and I grew to love Xandra as such a strong and kickass character! Following Xandra around was an absolute pleasure, and the mystery was deep and intriguing enough for me to be guessing all the way till the end. I absolutely loved what happened in the end! Even though you could kind of tell where the story was heading, it didn't make any difference for the excitement I felt at finally seeing everything fall into place, and I am SO excited to find out more about this world and it's wonderful characters! I for one cannot WAIT for the next book in the series to come out! The Queen is Dead will drop in February! I can't believe that it's so far away! I kind of want to cry because I can't just run out and read more about Xandra and Vex and the gang!


  1. I can't wait to read this book! Last week Amazon had chapters 1-4 as a separate ebook and I immediately downloaded it and it sounds fan-flippin-tastic!

  2. I loved that book to bits as well! Can't wait for the next one in series :) Great review!

  3. I can tell this book is going to be a book that pushes the limits. I love the cover. I loved the idea that the elite of society has a serious zombie problem. Great review!

  4. Andrea..awesome review, I love UF and this has all the elements I adore in urban fantasy..totally grabbing this one!

  5. Hey Andra! I'm so pumped your stopped by The Hiding Spot and introduced yourself!

    I grew up in NE Michigan (Alpena) and now I live in Kalamazoo and go to Western! :) What about you??

  6. This review was awesome really interested in this the title!

  7. Oh I had this one in my hand a week ago, but put it back for the price. But I really want it. Thanks for the awesome review!

  8. Oh this sounds good! I love UF and will be adding this to my wishlist! Thanks for the review!