Cover design by Lisa Marie Pompilio
Even today, too much of the fantasy that arrives every month feels very familiar, especially in setting. So novels that explore non-European and non-American settings have a special appeal for me. Kacen Callender’s Queen of the Conquered, on sale last week from Orbit, is a Caribbean-inspired historical fantasy, and that alone makes it interesting in my book.
What else does it have going for it? A lot of positive early buzz, for one thing. Jason Heller at NPR says it has a “stunning, satisfying conclusion,” and Alex Brown at Tor.com tells us it’s “nothing short of remarkable… it absolutely must be read.” Here’s a snippet from the starred review at Kirkus.
In a grimly plausible political fantasy–turned–murder mystery, a young woman faces the bloody consequences of her choices. Centuries ago, the pale-skinned Fjern conquered a group of Caribbean-like islands and enslaved its dark-skinned inhabitants. The islander Sigourney Rose was the sole survivor of the slaughter of her family by Fjern conspirators resentful that her mother, Mirjam, a freed slave married to a wealthy landowner, was invited to join the king’s inner circle of advisers. Resolved to revenge herself and to seize the regency, Sigourney poisons her cousin for his political position and uses her “kraft,” magical psychic abilities, to manipulate the failing mind of an orchestrator of the conspiracy… But once Sigourney reaches the royal island of Hans Lollik Helle, where the king will make his choice, nothing is as it seems… A fascinating exploration of how power corrupts and drives a person toward self-betrayal.
Queen of the Conquered is the opening novel of Islands of Blood and Storm. It was published by Orbit on November 12, 2019. It is 359 pages, priced at $15.99 in trade paperback and $9.99 in digital formats. The cover was designed by Lisa Marie Pompilio. See all of our recent New Treasures here.