God Save the Queen by Kate Locke (review copy) - The Year is 2012 - and Queen Victoria still rules with an immortal fist.
She's 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 technology lives side by side with magic, where being nobility means being infected with the Plague (side-effects include undeath) and Hysteria is the popular affliction of the day.
Xandra Vardan is a member of the elite Royal Guard, and it's her duty to protect the Aristocracy. But things get complicated when her sister goes missing. Xandra will not only realise she's the prize in a dangerous power struggle - but she'll also uncover a conspiracy that threatens to topple the empire itself. From Amazon UK
When I received God Save the Queen to review, I thought it sounded awesome, so picked it up quite quickly. What I didn't realise was just how awesome this book was going to be!
I don't even know where to start, but I think I should address the description above first, as it's slightly misleading. Other than the fact that this book contains paranormal creatures, there is no magic. And even with the paranormal creatures, that's more down to biology than magic. But to the story. This isn't a story about Queen Victoria, despite what the title suggests. She is a character in the book, but she's not the main character, or even an important secondary character - this book is all about Xandra. Xandra is a halvie - half human, half paranormal creature, in her case, vampire - and is part of the Royal Guard after years of training. She is badass, and she's only 22 - sorry, I mean two and twenty. She is extremely loyal when it comes to her family, so when her younger sister, Dede, goes missing, Xandra is determined to find her. But her sister's whereabouts isn't the only thing she discovers...
I really can't tell you more than that. Right from the very beginning, we're thrust onto a roller-coaster of twists and turns, lies and deceit, and a conspiracy. Something is up, but neither you nor Xandra can work out what they hell is going on. You have no idea who Xandra should trust when she is told something different by each person she meets, when people are holding out on her, and things she thought were so for most of her life turn out to be the complete opposite. What starts off as a search for a loved one ends up becoming a search for the truth on a much larger scale, with political intrigue and questions concerning herself. They say when you don't know who to trust, trust yourself, but how can you do that when you're not entirely sure who you are?
Despite the paranormal world Xandra lives in and her job, God Save the Queen is more a mystery than an action-packed novel. There are a number of fights and squirmishes scattered throughout the novel, but this story is more about using your head and your smarts more than your fists and your Bulldog revolver. Kate Locke is simply amazing, because you're constantly kept guessing as to what is really going on. I had several theories going on, but it never all really clicked into place for me until one page before it did for Xandra. It's absolutely thrilling to never really know what is going on, or who to like. Despite the lack of lots of action which I'm used to in an urban fantasy, I was constantly excited by this novel and eager to see where things led.
The world building for God Save the Queen is just brilliant! There is science! Yes, science! Not hard to understand science, but an actual credible explanation for the existence of vampires and werewolves in the Aristocracy, all because of the plague! And it makes perfect sense! Though, if some people have some trouble understanding it, it's explained brilliantly at the end of the book - all genetics and biology! Then there's the world itself. It's London, England this year, but not the London we know. Due to the paranormal Aristocracy, certain events in history didn't happen, and because of this, 2012 in Queen Victoria's reign is very different. Women still wear corsets and dress in ball gowns for royal events. There is technology, but it's very different from out own; people can ride around in horse-drawn or motorised ones, or their version of cars and motorbikes. You will recognise mobiles, computers, even fax-machines, but they're very different from our own with different names. Even CDs and DVDs have their own cylindrical counterparts in this world! There's no clockwork, so it's not a steampunk novel, but this topsy-turvy modern-historcal London makes for a fascinating read.
There are so many other things I could talk about, but I would come close to spoiling the book, so I'm going to leave it here. Basicially, God Save the Queen is a fantastic, intriguing, exciting paranormal mystery that will have you turning the pages faster than Xandra can run - and that's saying something! I cannot wait for the sequel, The Queen is Dead, which is released in February 2013. This was completely unputdownable, and every bit as gorgeous as the cover!
Thank you to Orbit for the review copy.
Published: 5th July 2012
Buy on Amazon US
Kate Locke's Website