I fell into The Hundredth Queen like a soft bed.
As soon as I started reading, I wanted to stay. In fact, I knew this book would get five stars from me on chapter six. Not much had happened yet, but I was already in love with Emily R. King’s writing style. It’s effortless, but vivid enough that I was pulled into Kali’s world immediately. Everything was vivid without over-writing, and the characters — oh, the characters.
All of the characters — not just Kali, the leading lady — are fully fleshed out. They have their own hopes, dreams, ambitions… They are real people. They all have flaws, and they all have reasons to be the way they are. No one in The Hundredth Queen is evil just “because.”
This is a fantasy series, but you couldn’t really tell until chapter eight. I actually loved that — King doesn’t hit you over the head with the magic system immediately. She gives you time to warm to the characters and the world, to forget you’re reading a fantasy, to see the characters as people… and then she introduces it in the form of conflict, which I also loved. It was a simple, yet effective, way of pulling back the veil.
Speaking of which: King writes in first person, through Kali. She does a wonderful job of using this as a plot device by making sure that we as readers only know as much as Kali does. This way, plot twists stay secret and other characters’ intentions retain an air of mystery. King didn’t overdo the use of “I,” either, which gives the (correct, in my opinion) impression that Kali isn’t very self-centered. I actually had to double-check that The Hundredth Queen was written in first-person, because I didn’t remember Kali talking about herself very often. She doesn’t constantly have an internal monologue, like some first-person characters, and doesn’t constantly talk about herself. It’s a very precarious balance, but King struck it.
Also, King’s writing moved me to tears a couple of times. It even made me sick to my stomach during the more intense, anxiety-inducing scenes. Usually, writing doesn’t affect me like that — I get lost in the world and become sort of detached from my emotions. But this writing pierced through me. I love it, but I hate it, because I just want to keep reading this series forever.
Lucky for me, I have an ARC of book two, The Fire Queen, too. Unlucky for me, I have to read a few other ARCs before I can get to it. We’ll see if I have the self-control to stick to that.