Queen of the Conquered is an unusual tale that lives somewhere between historical fiction and fantasy. It’s a slow building, emotionally fraught, politically complex story. At its heart, Sigourney is a strong woman with a huge history of trauma that defines her behavior throughout the story. She is the only woman of color who has risen to the level of royalty in this small group of islands. Islands run by elite white royals who make live extravagantly off the backs of slave labor tending to their sugarcane and tobacco crops. Sigourney’s position is unusual and precarious because she is also gifted with the kraft, a fact that relegates anyone of her color to a death sentence. Her status has exempted her from that fate but has also put her in a position of power over the slaves who are essentially her people. Most of this book is her inner and outer struggles to overcome the fact that she does not belong on either side. She does not agree with the treatment of her people but she capitulates to fit in amongst the royalty – often ordering beatings and executions of her slaves. She aches inside to set her people free and to exact vengence on those who are responsible for not only her family’s deaths but the torture and oppression of her people. She is entirely caught in an endless cycle of politics and power driven by racism and exploitation.
Most of the book you’re trying to figure out who is the big baddie pulling the strings amongst the royalty and slowly killing them off hoping to gain control of both the islands and all of the wealth, including the slaves. Most of the time trying to pin the deaths on Sigourney while she is trying to prove herself worthy to be the regent. That mystery was fun to play along with. My favorite character was not Sigourney but a slave she inherits, his background is as complex as hers as a child of a slave and a master, there are lots of spoilers attached to his story but he added a lot of intrigue.
I struggled to rate this one because of the way it floats between genres. I would have liked it more if it had no magic and was just a treatise on racism and power in island plantations. Equally I would have liked this book more if there were more magic and vengeance and less internal emotional conflict. To me it hovered in between being really interesting historical fiction and really amazing fantasy but instead hovered in between being mediocre in both categories. That said I will plow forward with the next book because the last chapter was the most interesting one in the whole book! ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
Do you like books that mash genres together? Like historical fiction with a little magic?