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Review – The Vanished Queen by Lisbeth Campbell

The Vanished Queen by Lisbeth Campbell

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Overall
7/10
7/10
  • Writing - 8/10
    8/10
  • Plot Development - 6/10
    6/10
  • Overall - 7/10
    7/10
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Summary

The Vanished Queen, a standalone fantasy novel by Lisbeth Campbell, tells a story of resistance to oppressively tyrannical power.

Trigger warning for abuse, torture, thoughts and acts of suicide, and sexual assault.

The Vanished Queen by Lisbeth Campbell

The Vanished Queen by Lisbeth Campbell is a debut political royal fantasy novel released by Gallery/Saga Press. 

Lisbeth Campbell - The Vanished QueenVetia is not a country at peace. Instead, King Karolje rules with an iron fist, killing and Disappearing people for even perceived dissent. No one is safe, not even other members of the royal family. Everyone knows that Karolje had his own wife, Mirantha, Disappeared many years ago. Vetia has been buckling for so long, and something is going to give. Anza joined the resistance after she found Mirantha’s lost journal and her father was executed. Through these events, she sees clearly that Vetia can be better than it is now, and that its current state must not be allowed to continue. When she accidentally meets Esvar, Karolje’s second son, Anza gets more involved in the resistance than she ever could have guessed.

Plot Structure and Development

The Vanished Queen tells its story through three close third-person perspectives: Anza’s, Esvar’s, and Queen Mirantha’s (from before she was Disappeared). Anza’s and Esvar’s perspectives are often on top of each other, telling the other’s reactions to an event we’ve just seen. Although this didn’t end up grating on me, I kept wondering what this plot looked like to someone a bit farther from the action.

The plot proceeds at a comfortable and steady pace, even when not depicting comfortable or steady events. Even though the Mirantha chapters are flashback chapters, the tale of Mirantha’s suffering illustrates Karolje’s cruel methods possibly better than any other part of the book. Although Anza finds Mirantha’s words inspiring, the reader is likely to find her experiences utterly harrowing. 

Conclusion – The Vanished Queen Vanquishes Tyranny From a Near Vantage Point

Even though The Vanished Queen clocks in at about 500 pages, I kind of wish there was more of it.  In this case, I think what happens next may be even more interesting than what was portrayed on the page. This book appears to be a standalone, and that makes sense, but I find myself wondering what a future in this world might look like. I’m not sure whether this lack of clarity is a good or bad sign.

I would not recommend this title if you want a particularly happy book. A lot of it is pretty dark, as you may have gleaned from the trigger warnings above. On the other hand, I would classify this book as hopepunk. Although Vetia is not a healthy and safe place for a person to live freely, people work together to try to make it better. The Vanished Queen is dark, not hopeless. In a time that feels hopeless, that seems like an important distinction to make.

I received this title from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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