While this story was one that I just had to know the ending to, and while I loved the very natural progression Vianne undergoes from quiet, unassuming lady-in-waiting to an authoritative queen, there was just something overall about this book that missed the mark for me.
So what missed the mark? The pacing for one. This is a slow book, and at times it felt as if it were going in circles – conversations and thoughts and intentions rehashed again and again. The romantic aspect of The Hedgewitch Queen is ultimately what kept me reading, but I did consider several times setting the book aside for something else. However, the romance itself is a bit strange. It at times feels calculated and political, and because of this, a bit passionless and not genuine. There is so much second-guessing and “Why would he love me?” type stuff on Vianne’s part, that I just never felt certain of their relationship status. But then again, perhaps it was supposed to give off that vibe? Their attraction also came across as a little unhealthy, as Tristan wanted to pummel or kill anyone who looked at Vianne cross-eyed. Ok. I’m over-exaggerating, but I did get the the feeling from things he said, things he did that he definitely has an undercurrent of darkness to him — that at times his anger is barely under control and that he’s done truly unforgivable things as the King’s Left Hand. Vianne is at times afraid of him, and I wonder at times if she isn’t right to think so.
Smaller grumblings include strange and incredibly repetitive word choices and phrasings. For example, the people of Arquitaine certainly do love their chai tea as it is mentioned no less than 56 times throughout the book. Another example: the word “ferret” is used a few times as both noun and verb (it’s a somewhat memorable word) and spelled “farrat,” except in one instance. I don’t usually point this sort of thing out in my reviews, but this is one novel in which a thesaurus, and at times a dictionary, would’ve come in handy.
However, despite my issues, the world is very interesting — definitely fantasy but with enticing hints of Europe thrown in (i.e. Rus = Russia, Pruzians = Prussians, and Vianne’s world has a heavy French influence). The political situation held my attention as well, and though I’m not a huge fan of the romance, I’ll definitely give Saintcrow credit for doing something different with the love interest. His character is rather compelling because of his unique moral perspective.
Overall, I give The Hedgewitch Queen props for originality, an interesting heroine and a fascinating world, but because of the iffy romance, the editing/writing style, and the fact that at times I had to motivate myself to keep reading, I’m torn about continuing on with this series.
* I believe that The Hedgewitch Queen is actually an adult novel; however, in my opinion it would be appropriate for an upper YA/new adult audience.