The Scarecrow Queen – Melinda Salisbury

Oh my god. This is an excellent finale to a terrifying, sexy, and tremendously well-executed YA fantasy trilogy.

First, the dislikes: the climax is a bit rushed, especially the confrontation with the villain, one character’s redemption through death is a bit of a cliche, and Errin’s anxiety from the previous book doesn’t really play a role here (though poor Errin is really put through a lot).

But everything else about this book is fantastic.

As it starts, Errin has been captured by the evil Sleeping Prince, who toys with her while keeping her boyfriend hostage for his alchemical abilities. Making things worse, her own brother, Lief, is the Sleeping Prince’s right-hand man. Errin’s pov is given in short interludes and then in the middle third of the book. Though Errin’s confrontations with the villain are great stuff, her third of the book spends a bit too much time on the logistics of her getting away.

However, in this third of the book, Merek from book one, The Sin-Eater’s Daughter, reappears, and he continues to play a large role throughout the book. He was my favorite character from the first book, so I was very happy with this development. He’s a prince who wants what’s best for his people, even if that doesn’t mean him on the throne. He’s dutiful, kind, and open to new ideas, and quietly and faithfully in love with Twylla, our first and last narrator.

Twylla has grown from the easily-manipulated girl of the first book–now she’s a leader and a fighter, organizing a resistance group against the Sleeping Prince while waiting to reunite with Errin so they can together create the poison that will kill him. She’s also marked by her past, deeply afraid of anyone controlling her or taking her choices from her.

Lief, her first lover before he betrayed her, sometimes helps and sometimes hinders Twylla and her plans. Is he really loyal to the Sleeping Prince, and is he really as selfish as he seems? And why does he twice refuse a healing elixir when seriously hurt?

I’m not going to spoil the plot for anyone, but it’s very suspenseful and fast-paced. The Sleeping Prince continues to be a great, terrifying villain–the scene in the middle in which his tower is burned and he suspects Errin and Lief have betrayed him is a great set-piece.

Melinda Salisbury’s next book will be the multi-authored Floored, a contemporary YA, and she has hinted at more fantasy books. The US edition of The Scarecrow Queen won’t be out till next year, so I recommend ordering from The Book Depository, as I did.

 

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