**I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My sincere thank you to Bloomsbury for the ARC!**
Like a lot of bloggers and avid readers, The Girl King, was HIGH on my want to read list. I couldn’t believe my luck when I receive a copy! I was slightly intimidated by the size of the book (nearly 500 pages) so I hesitated starting it. I finally bit the bullet and dove in. What I read left me slightly under-whelmed and let down. I’ll explain.
If you go by the cover alone, it looks like this is an action packed story where a princess fights to become/keep her crown. Well, that would have been a lot better than what I read. What this actually was turned out to be a very, very light fantasy story of a story we all have heard before. The protagonist, Lu, was on the path to be named Emperor by her Father. She snubbed what was expected of her (high proper manners and et all) in lieu of weapons training, combat, survival skills, and tactical strategy. Lu is devastated to discover that she is not named Emperor, but instead promised to her cousin, Set. Lu chose to forge her own path and fought instead of rolled over. While I commend that, it made for a very long story. Set wants nothing more than to be Emperor because some magic guy told him it was his destiny. When he could not marry Lu, he married Lu’s sister, Min. As if that wasn’t confusing enough, it gets a lot muddier and confusing after that.
There were three POVs within this story: Lu, Min, and Nokhai. While they had individual voices, their stories were far too complex and not that interesting. I thought Lu was supposed to be the main character and as such I wanted to know about her most of all. Sadly her chapters were full of long paragraphs about nothing. Mim felt like an immature child who was trying to have a bigger presence than she did. I think I understand why she was included as a main character but talk about forced. That was not a natural storyline at all. Nokhai was by far the most boring character. His backstory was as confusing as it got. There was just too much going on for him and I cared about him the least. Truth be told, I didn’t connect with any character. I did not care what happened to anyone.
The plot of the story is still a little baffling to me. I get what it was supposed to be about but this author took the long way around her elbow to get to her thumb. What does that mean? It means it is a book nearly 500 pages long that should have been roughly 300 or less. There did not need to be so many paragraphs/chapters devoted to describing the trees, the forest, the cakes served at dinner, or even the hair comb that was pinned under the cushion of a random chair. None of it mattered in the end. I found myself seriously skimming the last 1/3 of the book because I wanted to be done with it. This was not the grand action fantasy adventure I was hoping for. Heck, even the magic within the story was weak and sparse at best.
This was by no means an original story. It was one we have all read before, but never at this length. Will I pick up the next book? I’m not entire sure yet. If I am sent a copy to review, absolutely. If I don’t and it publishes? Eh, the jury is still out on that one. If you read this and love it, I am thrilled! This could really just be a case of “not every book is for every reader” and it’s me, not the book.