Red Queen | Review

A forgotten son, a vengeful mother, a brother with a long shadow, a strange mutation. Together, they’ve written a tragedy.

In a perfect blend of The Hunger Games meets Divergent meets Throne of Glass meets The Selection, Red Queen tells the enthralling story of Mare Burrows. A 17-year-old Red, she lives a life of poverty and misfortune at the hands of the powerful elite, those who bleed Silver. Time is running out before she gets involuntarily conscripted into the army to fight a centuries old war that has brought nothing but death and destruction to her people. A sea of Red blood spilled for a Silver war.

Long ago he called us ants, Red ants burning in the light of a Silver sun. Destroyed by the greatness of others, losing the battle for our right to exist because we are not special. We did not evolve like them, with powers and strengths beyond our limited imaginations. We stayed the same, stagnant in our own bodies.

A few months shy of turning 18, her despair and recklessness leads her to make use of her pick pocketing skills to try and prepare her family for the day when she is forced to fight a war no one wants to fight. But when her sister’s position in her highly desirable apprenticeship becomes precarious, desperation leads to Mare picking the pocket of the wrong man and her predictable life turns into a rollercoaster ride.


She is mysteriously given a position within the Silver court as a servant, leading to the very public discovery of her powers. Suddenly she is no longer Mare Burrows, Red. Welcome Lady Mareena, long lost heiress of the conveniently dead House Titanos, newly betrothed to the King’s youngest son, Prince Maven. A Silver. After all, for a Red to have the capacity to draw power is not only outrageous but also incredibly dangerous.

With her life and the life of her loved ones on the line, Mare has no choice but to become a simple pawn for the King and Queen to use at will. She becomes a way for the elite to further subordinate the increasingly resistant Reds while placating the concerned Silvers.

A puppet. A show to keep people happy, quiet, and trampled.

I was originally drawn to this book because of its absolutely beautiful cover. That is one seriously stunning design. I am happy to announce that its aesthetic beauty matches its interior.

Red Queen author; Victoria Aveyard
Red Queen author Victoria Aveyard – Image Source:

From the very first chapter I was sucked into the story. Aveyard has a rich and wonderful writing style, resulting into very detailed and vivid world building. Her depiction of this fantasy world was perfection, and I loved how she included non-traditional high fantasy elements such as electricity and motorcycles. It was the little details that won me over. Mare’s ignorance over simple things that she would have never come across in her life as a Red is like the cherry on top of a really good ice cream sundae.

A little girl, Silver judging by her clothes, feeds tiny bits of apple to a spotted, horse-like creature with an impossibly long neck.

I was a fan of Mare from the very beginning. She is sassy and headstrong; she’s a fierce protector of her loved ones. But she’s also a little screwed up and lacks self-confidence, evident in her envy of her younger sister’s abilities with a needle and thread. She lacks the skills to be apprenticed and so she uses her pickpocketing abilities to try and set her family up with a small nest egg before she is forced to join her older brother’s in the war. And when her life does a swift 180-degree turn, she adapts. She fights to survive in this brand new environment and despite her lack of belief in her strength she doesn’t give in. She doesn’t become the meek symbol of Silver blood raised as Red, the best of both worlds. She fights. And never loses her sass.

His opinion isn’t worth the rust on my father’s wheelchair.

There is a slight love triangle but it’s not so overt so as to drive a self-confessed triangle-hater like me insane. In the one corner we have Prince Cal, the older brother and subsequent heir of the throne. The King’s favourite son, he is stronger, more handsome, and more beloved. In the other corner we have Prince Maven. The younger brother, he falls through the cracks; the shadow to his brother’s flame (much in the same way that Mare feels inferior to her younger sister Gisa).

The two boys are night and day, although when you look closely they’re a lot more alike than expected. They’re both rife with moral grayness – which I absolutely love. Throughout the entire novel you don’t know which to trust, and for the life of me I couldn’t decide whom I preferred. Just when you think you figured it out, Aveyard would throw another spanner in the worlds and you’ll be right back at the start (although if I’m honest I did have a slight partiality for Maven).

In all actuality, the romance is kind of tame. There are some kisses and a little conflict, but at the end of the day Mare knows she’s in a precarious position amongst the Silvers. She has a good head on her shoulders and knows what’s more important.

I’m a Red girl in a sea of Silvers and I can’t afford to feel sorry for anyone, least of all the son of a snake.

Yet there also happens to be a third contender to Mare’s heart: her oldest, bestest friend, Kilorn. I feel like much of Mare’s actions in this first installment can be traced back to Kilorn. I both loved and hated him in equal parts. He acted without thought of (or in spite of) Mare’s need to protect him and, although it’s not his fault she has a savior complex, I couldn’t help but regard him with some contempt.

Not only are the main characters three dimensional with character growth, but so were the secondary characters. From Mare’s family, to Prince Cal’s betrothed Evangeline, and her Silver companions: her teacher Julian and guard Lucas. They’re all well-rounded characters with something to provide to the story.

One of my favourite things about this novel though was the discussion on politics and morality, the destructive nature of man. The Silvers have supported a war with no second thought about the consequence of copious Red deaths. The Reds do as their told, too afraid to rebel against a group that can read your thoughts, set you on first, or worse. But at the end of the day, humanity can only take so much before it begins to push back.

This world is Silver, but it is also gray. There is no black-and-white.

We get to see the inner working of court life. While Reds are told that Silvers are all powerful, in reality court is a battleground bursting with political ploys at every turn. Court is one giant game that Mare has been unceremoniously thrust into. She struggles to learn who to trust, but learn she must.

Anyone can betray anyone.

I also really enjoyed Aveyard’s portrayal of the destructive nature of war on soldiers, mostly through the form of Mare’s father. From his one real lung and one metal one, to his wheelchair and his obvious PTSD, he’s a wonderful character that I hope to see more of.

She’ll think it’s a small step on a big journey, you see? First I leave the house at night, then during the day, then I’m rolling around the market with her like it’s twenty years ago. […] I’m never getting better, Mare. I’m never going to feel better. I can’t let her hope for that, not when I know it’ll never happen.

I thought the storyline itself was amazing. There were so many twists and turns that I didn’t see coming at all – and some that I did. The foreshadowing was perfection and, despite being able to see the major twist coming, I was so sure (read: hopeful) that it was a red herring and I was wrong. So when it actually happened I was still shocked and pained (in a good way of course).

Dear lord that ending. The worst thing about reading brilliant ARCs is the nasty long wait until the next book in the series. I really have no idea how I’m going to managed until 2016.

Things I’m hoping for in the next installment:

  • Backstory on the rise of the Silvers. When did this mutation begin? How did the Silvers overwhelm the Reds? Tell me things.
  • Mare kicking ass and taking names.
  • Some more diversity in the characters. Give me some POC, some LGBT, etc.

Rise, red as the dawn.


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