REVIEW: Queen B by Juno Dawson

With the Her Majesty’s Royal Coven series, Juno Dawson has created an incisive contemporary look at womanhood, power and perspectives on feminism. These are books that speak to the political issues and conversations that are dominating the discourse here in the UK. Queen B takes a step back from that and is set in the sixteenth century – looking at Anne Boleyn and the first coven. It’s a fairly short novella and a very different vibe to the first two (full-length) novels in the series, Her Majesty’s Royal Coven and The Shadow Cabinet. The themes of sisterhood, jealousy and living outside the social norms continue in Queen B, though the conflicts are far more mundane and personal here.

Queen BQueen B’s story is told in two timelines. One set in 1536, beginning shortly after Anne Boleyn’s execution. The other is less linear, choosing very specific memories of the (recent) past to show the reader. This gives us an excellent grasp of the characters. The focus is clearly laid on the establishing of characters and relationships, and the story is more feelings and big emotions rather than a strong plot. I found Dawson’s approach to showing the reader very effective. She uses her past storyline to hone in on interpersonal relationships, on why the reader should care about the present story. Giving the reader the space to feel who these characters are and why they do the things they do makes Queen B shine.

It was interesting to read a story that, on the face of it, is about someone absent. It reminded me of the first season of Veronica Mars (am I dating myself? Yes.) where Lily, the murdered friend is at the centre of events even though she herself is no longer there. I love when authors play with perspective and unreliable narrators. My gripe with Queen B boils down to wanting more. More nuance, more detail, more time. It works well for what it is, but it didn’t manage to get me thinking the way Her Majesty’s Royal Coven and The Shadow Cabinet did. I still enjoyed my reading experience though, and am looking forward to the next full-length instalment.

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Fabienne Schwizer

Fabienne Schwizer

Fabienne can usually be found with her nose in a book or two. Most of her life revolves around words, be that reading, writing, or editing. You can find more of her ramblings over on www.libridraconis.com, where she also reviews YA books and more lighthearted Fantasy and Science Fiction, as @FLSchwizer on Twitter, and @libri_draconis on Instagram. If you're curious about what she is currently reading, check out www.goodreads.com/libridraconis.

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