Stuff and Nonsense


6.24.2020

Pride Month: The Queen of Ieflaria


Princess Esofi has made the long journey to Ieflaria to wed Crown Prince Albion, someone she has been betrothed to since childhood. Although they have never met, they have exchanged many letters, and Esofi is looking forward to her marriage … or, rather, was. The prince has died, leaving Esofi and Ieflaria in precarious positions. Esofi does not want to return to her homeland (from my reading it seemed almost as if she couldn't) and Ieflaria doesn't want her to go, as they need her magic to fight off the dragons pillaging the countryside.

Esofi needs to marry someone royal to stay in Ieflaria. Someone like Adale, Albion's sister. And that would be an excellent solution to everyone's problems ... except Adale never expected to be the heir, is upset by the idea of replacing her brother, and is set on doing a runner at the first opportunity. Happily, there is an alternative to Adele -- the Terrible Cousins. Except, well, they're terrible.

I liked Adale and Esofi -- both very different characters, but each interesting and compellingly-written. Their romance grew slowly from an initial tentative liking into something tender and sweet and rooted. They were so cute together. Every scene with just the two of them getting to know each other left me grinning like a goof and wishing for more. Indeed, I would have been perfectly content if the entire novel had just been a series of scenes in which Adale and Esofi exchange amusing banter while wearing fabulous clothes.

I do wish the secondary characters were a bit more fleshed out. Most were very one-note -- for example, Lady Mireille was snotty, "Lady Lisette" was sneaky, and Adele's friends were akin to a mass of drunken puppies. The world-building was a bit uneven -- Esofi's interior monologues sometimes bordered on infodumps and, yet, I also frequently felt as if I was being tortured with hints of Things That Might Be Important But Will Go Unexplained. But, hey, The Queen of Ieflaria is both a debut novel and the first in a series -- I expect the world-building will improve as Calvin goes on and concepts/subplots that are unclear will become crystal.

Ultimately, while I feel The Queen of Ieflaria does need just a little more polish, it was still an extremely enjoyable read. Hooray for kissing, kittens, floofy dresses! Hooray for happy pansexual princesses! Hooray for a fantasy universe in which sexuality is not A Big Deal or even a Thing.

The Queen of Ieflaria by Effie Calvin. NineStar Press, 2018. Kindle edition.