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Queen of the Conquered

by Kacen Callender

Library Journal Sigourney Rose is Elskerinde, head of Lund Helle island, one of the islands of Hans Lollik. Yet she is also the only survivor of the Rose family massacre, perpetrated by the same colonizing families she now moves among. As Elskerinde, she is viewed as a betrayer of the enslaved brown-skinned islanders, and to the pale Fjern rulers, she does not know her place. But Sigourney plays the long game, using her power to manipulate thoughts and control people, to get herself to Hans Lollik Helle, where the childless ruler will decide on his successor—and where Sigourney will find vengeance. There she will be trapped for storm season, and murder, power plays, and rebellion simmer into a perfect storm of their own and a battle for the throne. VERDICT Callender's (Hurricane Child; This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story) first adult novel draws race relations, conquest, magic, and politics into an imaginative, layered story that will keep readers twisting until the end. The author's personal experience growing up in St. Thomas lends to the rich setting and postcolonial themes. [See Prepub Alert, 5/5/19.]—Kristi Chadwick, Massachusetts Lib. Syst., Northampton

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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 into making a match between her and the woman's son so that she will be of sufficient consequence for the regent to choose her as his successor. But once Sigourney reaches the royal island of Hans Lollik Helle, where the king will make his choice, nothing is as it seems. Someone is murdering the other members of the kongelig, the Fjern ruling nobility, and the king may be nothing more than a ghost or illusion. Will Sigourney survive long enough to achieve her goals? Where other authors might make a woman in Sigourney's position a freedom fighter, Callender's adult debut depicts a self-involved woman bent on personal power, with no clear idea of what to do with it beyond gain revenge. For someone who can read minds, Sigourney doesn't really understand people, or even herself, very well. She desperately wants the respect of the other Fjern even though she knows full well that their violent prejudice against her skin tone means she will never get it. She only ever expresses the most pinched and selfish forms of love yet wants the islanders to love her and understand that she's acting for their own good even though she actually does nothing for them, issuing orders to her slaves while ignoring them as people, somewhat reluctantly abusing and executing them, and associating with their oppressors. She feels a certain amount of guilt for her actions but not enough to stop her from acting. And despite her resentment at never being treated like an intelligent equal, she continually underestimates her fellow islanders, to her cost. Despite their grotesqueness and near absurdity, her hypocrisy and blind spots are totally realistic.A fascinating exploration of how power corrupts and drives a person toward self-betrayal. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Callender’s Caribbean-inspired first novel for adults—a mix of fantasy, history, mystery, and palace intrigue—struggles to overcome its sluggish first half. Hans Lollik is an island nation populated by the white, sea-faring Fjern and the enslaved black natives, who are known simply as islanders. As the only black landholder, Sigourney Lund is seen as a traitor to her people for owning slaves and enforcing the brutal laws of their colonizers. Few know that Sigourney is the survivor of a massacre. Having hidden behind an assumed name and eventually ascended to the role of matriarch of the Lunds, Sigourney is finally prepared to take revenge on the ruling class that plotted her family’s assassination and have held the Hans Lollik islanders in bondage for generations. But the cost of revenge is high, and Sigourney’s bid for power leads her afoul of her fellow islanders, as she continues to own people even as she claims to fight for their freedom. Callender (This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story) convincingly illustrates the corrupting influence of unchecked power and privilege, but Sigourney is too passive; even after she begins her revenge scheme, events mostly happen to her. The moral complexity of the story’s climax is satisfying, but readers will have to be very patient to get there. Agent: Beth Phelan, Gallt & Zacker. (Nov.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list Callender's first foray into adult fiction presents an alternative colonial Caribbean world with its own brand of magic. Sigourney Rose is unique among her island people. She is the daughter of a freed slave and a nobleman, and has always known freedom. When her family was killed by other nobles, Sigourney was adopted by an uncle who, although disgusted by her black skin, took her in because of his respect for her mother. Since that time, Sigourney has been planning revenge. By emulating their colonizers, she has finally gained enough power and position to begin working towards freeing her people. And she has the added talent for reading and controlling minds an ability that reveals the thoughts of all around her. But of what use are her ambitions if her own people see her as no different than their cruel masters? Callender pulls no punches and uses this diversely populated fantasy world to deliver a polemic on hate and the lies people tell themselves to justify their cruelty.--Lucy Lockley Copyright 2019 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal Sigourney Rose is Elskerinde, head of Lund Helle island, one of the islands of Hans Lollik. Yet she is also the only survivor of the Rose family massacre, perpetrated by the same colonizing families she now moves among. As Elskerinde, she is viewed as a betrayer of the enslaved brown-skinned islanders, and to the pale Fjern rulers, she does not know her place. But Sigourney plays the long game, using her power to manipulate thoughts and control people, to get herself to Hans Lollik Helle, where the childless ruler will decide on his successor—and where Sigourney will find vengeance. There she will be trapped for storm season, and murder, power plays, and rebellion simmer into a perfect storm of their own and a battle for the throne. VERDICT Callender's (Hurricane Child; This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story) first adult novel draws race relations, conquest, magic, and politics into an imaginative, layered story that will keep readers twisting until the end. The author's personal experience growing up in St. Thomas lends to the rich setting and postcolonial themes. [See Prepub Alert, 5/5/19.]—Kristi Chadwick, Massachusetts Lib. Syst., Northampton

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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 into making a match between her and the woman's son so that she will be of sufficient consequence for the regent to choose her as his successor. But once Sigourney reaches the royal island of Hans Lollik Helle, where the king will make his choice, nothing is as it seems. Someone is murdering the other members of the kongelig, the Fjern ruling nobility, and the king may be nothing more than a ghost or illusion. Will Sigourney survive long enough to achieve her goals? Where other authors might make a woman in Sigourney's position a freedom fighter, Callender's adult debut depicts a self-involved woman bent on personal power, with no clear idea of what to do with it beyond gain revenge. For someone who can read minds, Sigourney doesn't really understand people, or even herself, very well. She desperately wants the respect of the other Fjern even though she knows full well that their violent prejudice against her skin tone means she will never get it. She only ever expresses the most pinched and selfish forms of love yet wants the islanders to love her and understand that she's acting for their own good even though she actually does nothing for them, issuing orders to her slaves while ignoring them as people, somewhat reluctantly abusing and executing them, and associating with their oppressors. She feels a certain amount of guilt for her actions but not enough to stop her from acting. And despite her resentment at never being treated like an intelligent equal, she continually underestimates her fellow islanders, to her cost. Despite their grotesqueness and near absurdity, her hypocrisy and blind spots are totally realistic.A fascinating exploration of how power corrupts and drives a person toward self-betrayal. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Callender’s Caribbean-inspired first novel for adults—a mix of fantasy, history, mystery, and palace intrigue—struggles to overcome its sluggish first half. Hans Lollik is an island nation populated by the white, sea-faring Fjern and the enslaved black natives, who are known simply as islanders. As the only black landholder, Sigourney Lund is seen as a traitor to her people for owning slaves and enforcing the brutal laws of their colonizers. Few know that Sigourney is the survivor of a massacre. Having hidden behind an assumed name and eventually ascended to the role of matriarch of the Lunds, Sigourney is finally prepared to take revenge on the ruling class that plotted her family’s assassination and have held the Hans Lollik islanders in bondage for generations. But the cost of revenge is high, and Sigourney’s bid for power leads her afoul of her fellow islanders, as she continues to own people even as she claims to fight for their freedom. Callender (This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story) convincingly illustrates the corrupting influence of unchecked power and privilege, but Sigourney is too passive; even after she begins her revenge scheme, events mostly happen to her. The moral complexity of the story’s climax is satisfying, but readers will have to be very patient to get there. Agent: Beth Phelan, Gallt & Zacker. (Nov.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list Callender's first foray into adult fiction presents an alternative colonial Caribbean world with its own brand of magic. Sigourney Rose is unique among her island people. She is the daughter of a freed slave and a nobleman, and has always known freedom. When her family was killed by other nobles, Sigourney was adopted by an uncle who, although disgusted by her black skin, took her in because of his respect for her mother. Since that time, Sigourney has been planning revenge. By emulating their colonizers, she has finally gained enough power and position to begin working towards freeing her people. And she has the added talent for reading and controlling minds an ability that reveals the thoughts of all around her. But of what use are her ambitions if her own people see her as no different than their cruel masters? Callender pulls no punches and uses this diversely populated fantasy world to deliver a polemic on hate and the lies people tell themselves to justify their cruelty.--Lucy Lockley Copyright 2019 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

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