QUEEN OF RUIN by Tracy Banghart
(This book was sent by TheNovl in exchange for an honest review).
(minor spoilers for GRACE AND FURY because of context for QUEEN OF RUIN)
Author: Tracy Banghart
Publisher: TheNovl (Little, Brown Young Readers)
Publication Date: July 2019
QUEEN OF RUIN is the beautiful feminist book that you’ve been waiting for! In this stunning sequel to GRACE AND FURY, Serina and Nomi fight for their own freedom, while holding to their beliefs and convictions. Tracy Banghart has written a captivating and intriguing conclusion to an epic adventure story about what happens when girls decide to stand up for their rights – and it is one book that you’ll find hard to put down.
Here’s a short summary taken from Amazon.com:
When the new, brutal Superior banishes Nomi from Bellaqua, she finds herself powerless and headed towards her all-but-certain death. Her only hope is to find her sister, Serina, on the prison island of Mount Ruin. But when Nomi arrives, it is not the island of conquered, broken women that they expected. It is an island in the grip of revolution, and Serina--polite, submissive Serina--is its leader. Betrayal, grief, and violence have changed both sisters, and the women of Mount Ruin have their sights set on revenge beyond the confines of their island prison. They plan to sweep across the entire kingdom, issuing in a new age of freedom for all. But first they'll have to get rid of the new Superior, and only Nomi knows how. Separated once again, this time by choice, Nomi and Serina must forge their own paths as they aim to tear down the world they know, and build something better in its place. The stakes are higher and the battles bolder in Tracy Banghart's unputdownable sequel to Grace and Fury.
If you know me, you’ll know that I am a huge fan of duologies. When I heard that GRACE AND FURY (aka, one of my favorite books of 2018) was going to be a duology, I did freak out *just a little.* I enjoy reading duologies because I like to see how the author can fit all the necessary information into a final book – sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t, but I’m so happy to shout to the world that QUEEN OF RUIN is the most epic duology conclusion you will read all year, and it is the perfect ending!
First of all, it picks up right where GRACE AND FURY ended, so it makes for a very seamless transition (if you’re like me and you go back and read the first book before starting the sequel). Second, the whole story flows so well, and there is never a boring moment. You will be on the edge of your seat the whole time you read this. I honestly had a hard time finding a good stopping place!
Okay, here’s a quick bit of backstory for those who may not have read GRACE AND FURY yet. (What are you waiting for? Go. Now.)
Nomi was chosen to be the Malachi, the Superior’s, Grace, but she wanted to overthrow him and marry his brother Asa. In GRACE AND FURY, Asa turned out to be evil and wounded Malachi with the intent to kill him. Then, Asa had Nomi and Malachi put on a boat to the prison island of Mount Ruin.
So, I was very happy to find out that Malachi wasn’t dead after all! His character had always intrigued me…and he was very dark and brooding. Even though Nomi did betray Malachi in the previous book, they do have such a great romantic relationship throughout QUEEN OF RUIN. If you’re a Nomi/Malachi shipper, then you’ll love the ending! And speaking of romantic relationships, Serina and Val have the sweetest romance. It’s one of those romances where the other person doesn’t question the other person. I really like the fact that there wasn’t a love triangle in QUEEN OF RUIN, since there was a Nomi-Malachi-Asa triangle in the first book.
Since Nomi and Malachi are sent to the island with Serina, Val, and the other women, that means that 80% of the book’s action does take place on the island. While I was okay with this, and loved seeing how Nomi coped with Serina’s new position as “leader” and warrior, I am a sucker for a good court drama, and I thought that the ending had much more potential for some court intrigue. I’m not spoiling it for those who haven’t read it yet, but when Nomi does the thing in Bellaqua at the end of the book, I think that could have been a little more drawn out instead of her just showing up and doing the thing. This is literally the only instance that I wasn’t a fan of throughout the whole book. Maybe it was just because I wanted QUEEN OF RUIN to keep going and not end! 😊
If you remember the awful guards that Serina and the women of Mount Ruin imprisoned at the end of the last book, they’re back in this one. Surprisingly, they have a big part to play, and it causes Serina, Nomi, Val, and the women to try and figure out for themselves what is right and what is wrong. The guards kind of mess with everyone’s minds, and they end up doing something (no spoilers) that turns the tide of the whole book. Even though I despise them as people, Tracy Banghart did a great job with their individual personalities.
Let’s talk about those battle scenes. If you’re looking for an action-packed book, you have come to the right place! When I write my own stories, action scenes are my favorite thing to write, so I always enjoy reading them as well. In QUEEN OF RUIN, the action is well-written and the women on Mount Ruin have unique emotions that they feel when they fight. That’s what really made it believable for me. Plus, it’s fast-paced, just like a real battle.
One of my favorite quotes from QUEEN OF RUIN is when Nomi says, “It’s difficult to expect much of yourself when the rest of the world doesn’t bother.” This is true even of today’s world; if you want to be validated, look to yourself first. You don’t need other people to tell you that what you’re doing is right, or good. Get confidence from yourself, knowing that you’re being the best person you can be. Once you’ve done that, you can then do like Nomi does and work to help people understand that women should be respected and valued just as much as everyone else. That’s one of my favorite themes from QUEEN OF RUIN, and I’m so proud of Tracy for coming right out and writing such a great, feminist book that can deliver these powerful messages.
In conclusion, QUEEN OF RUIN is a book that can empower young adult women to stand up for what they believe, and a book that can help others see how important it is to treat every person equally, and not just specific genders, races, or religions. Featuring beautiful locations, epic battles, and swoon-worthy characters, QUEEN OF RUIN delivers in all aspects! I highly recommend reading both QUEEN OF RUIN and GRACE AND FURY!
QUEEN OF RUIN receives 4.5 stars out of 5!