Review: The True Queen by Zen Cho

The True Queen (Sorcerer Royal #2) by Zen Cho

Fairyland’s future lies in doubt…

The island of Janda Baik, in the Malay archipelago, has long been home to witches. And Muna and her sister Satki wake on its shores under a curse – which has stolen away their memories. Satki plots to banish it in London, as Britain’s Sorceress Royal dares to train female magicians. But the pair journey there via the Fairy Queen’s realm, where Satki disappears.

Distraught, Muna takes her sister’s place at the school, despite her troublesome lack of magic. Then the Sorceress receives an ambassador from the Fairy Court, which has incarcerated her friends – for supposedly stealing a powerful talisman. Their Queen is at her most dangerous, fearing for her throne. For the missing trinket contained the magic of her usurped sister, Fairyland’s rightful heir. Mina must somehow find Satki, break their curse and stay out of trouble. But if the true queen does finally return, trouble may find her first…

Published 12 March 2019 |  Publisher: Pan MacMillan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

This review is in relation to book 2 of the series but each book could stand on its own and therefore I believe no spoilers exist in my review. 

I remembered enjoying Sorcerer to the Crown (book 1 of this series) when I read it a few years ago so I was excited to see a sequel. I was even more excited when I read the description which seems to have more Asian slant (“The island of Janda Baik, in the Malay archipelago…“). There aren’t many fantasy books published in English with Asian slant; until recent times, of course, when social media helped readers like me to come across writers like Zen Cho, Fonda Lee, and many other amazing talents out there.

I know nothing of Malay’s mythology so I’ve no idea whether any part of this book is inspired by such. I just had a lot of fun imagining Mak Genggang (old cranky Malay old lady), the island, and their style of dresses (I had a lot of Batik motif in mind). And then, when setting was moved to Fairyland, I had even more fun imagining all the fantastical fairy things and creatures. Even whilst I used a lot of my own imagination, I was totally helped along by the author as this novel was full of such rich  descriptive prose. This was what I loved most of this novel.

We mostly follow one of the 2 sisters with some chapters in between from perspectives of some English sorceresses. Prunella, who was the main protagonist in the first book, also made her appearance here though as rather minor character so we didn’t really see her develop here. I did identify with the main protag’s earlier character of sensible timidness even if it annoyed me a little however she did develop into someone you’d very much like.

That last bit at the end of the book, though… I just felt that it was forced. I didn’t expect that. I didn’t feel coming at all. I just didn’t feel it. Is it just me? Please tell me if you actually felt that spark cuz I had none :/

Overall, a very fun adventure of interesting (plus quirky) characters in very lush settings. You could read this second book without reading the first but you’ll miss some background on the English side of the ‘history’. So, read both!

Thanks to Pan MacMillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Zen Cho is the author of a short story collection (Spirits Abroad, Fixi, 2014) and two historical fantasy novels (Sorcerer to the Crown, 2015 and The True Queen, 2019, both published by Ace and Macmillan). She is a winner of the Crawford Award and the British Fantasy Award for Best Newcomer, and a finalist for the Locus, Hugo and Campbell Awards. She was born and raised in Malaysia, resides in the UK, and lives in a notional space between the two.

Find Zen on:  goodreads  |  website  | twitter

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