Review: The Ever Queen by L.J. Andrews





The conclusion of Erik and Livia’s duet in an exciting, tantalizing romance.


Reviewed by Dakota Watson (Buddy read with Nethra Deckland)

As a ardent fan of The Ever King, diving into its sequel, The Ever Queen, was both exhilarating and nerve wracking. The first installment had left me eagerly awaiting the continuation of the saga. Unfortunately, while The Ever Queen wasn’t without its charms, it didn’t quite live up to the high expectations set by its predecessor. From the start, it was clear that Andrews was struggling with the narrative, particularly in tying up loose ends. The story felt somewhat strained as it attempted to wrap up various plotlines, leaving me yearning for more depth and coherence. Given the epic cliffhanger from the previous book, I anticipated an adventure brimming with character development and immersive world-building. Regrettably, these elements felt somewhat lacking in this installment.

That’s not to say there weren’t moments of brilliance. The initial separation of the main characters, fraught with angst, provided a compelling emotional backdrop. And the subsequent reunion, filled with sweetness and longing, was a welcome respite from the tension. Yet, it was the final act, the climactic battle between good and evil, that ultimately fell flat. In my opinion there were way too many characters in this book. While I did really enjoy Livia’s Earth Fae family and friends coming into the Ever and playing a part in saving it as I really enjoyed their camaraderie in the first book, given how Andrews handled the narrative their characters weren’t given enough space to shine through. Even the Ever Ship crew was lost in the shadows.

Entering The Ever Queen, I harbored high hopes for Livia’s character arc, particularly in terms of her growth and the manifestation of her powers as she assumed her role as queen. Yet, as the narrative unfolded, it became increasingly apparent that these expectations were misplaced. Rather than witnessing significant strides in Livia’s development and her wielding of newfound powers to save the Ever, much of the focus was diverted to her emotional journey, particularly her longing for Eric. While this aspect undoubtedly added depth to her character, it felt disproportionate in relation to the overarching plot. The narrative seemed to sideline Livia’s ascension to queen and the exploration of her powers, relegating them to secondary concerns. What should have been pivotal moments of triumph and revelation felt muted and overshadowed by the prominence of her romantic entanglements.

While Erik’s portrayal in The Ever Queen wasn’t necessarily negative, it did fall short of the kingly stature I had come to expect from him. In the first installment, he was depicted as a formidable and morally ambiguous leader, driven by a fierce dedication to his people. However, in this sequel, his character seemed to undergo a noticeable shift. Erik’s unwavering devotion to Livia took center stage, leading him to make decisions that seemed at odds with his established persona. His willingness to jeopardize everything he had built for the sake of saving Livia felt somewhat out of character, detracting from his previous image as a shrewd and pragmatic ruler. Furthermore, Erik’s presence paled in comparison to that of Valen, whose maturity and experience as a seasoned king lent him a commanding presence. Valen’s rationality and decisiveness served as a stark contrast to Erik’s perceived fumbling and indecision, casting the latter in a less flattering light.

While the spicy scenes between Erik and Livia added a layer of passion to the narrative, their prevalence came at the expense of broader character and plot development. Andrews’ emphasis on their romantic relationship detracted from their roles as king and queen tasked with saving the Ever, leaving their character growth feeling somewhat stunted.

The Ever Queen certainly fell short in its portrayal of antagonists and the execution of pivotal moments. Larson, as the primary antagonist, lacked the depth and development necessary to make him truly compelling. His character arc felt underdeveloped, leaving his motivations and actions somewhat ambiguous and uninspiring. Similarly, Fione’s characterization as a fierce and ruthless adversary failed to fully resonate. Despite her potential to add depth and tension to the narrative, her portrayal fell short of expectations, rendering her somewhat forgettable in the grand scheme of things. While Skadi’s introduction injected a fresh dynamic into the story, her impact ultimately failed to inspire awe. Her character, while intriguing, lacked the depth and development needed to truly captivate the audience.

One of the most glaring disappointments was the lack of detail surrounding the anticipated naval battle at the book’s climax. The absence of vivid descriptions and strategic insights left this pivotal moment feeling lackluster and underwhelming. Moreover, the dearth of world building throughout the narrative had broader implications for the portrayal of Erik as a ruler. Instead of commanding a formidable fleet befitting a true king, Erik’s role felt diminished, reducing him to little more than a captain of a single ship. The narrative’s narrow focus on the Ever Ship crew and the Earth Fae further detracted from the sense of grandeur and scale that should have accompanied Erik’s leadership.

Overall, The Ever Queen certainly had its merits, notably in the quality of its writing and the smooth flow of its narrative. However, its strengths were somewhat overshadowed by missed opportunities for character development and a disproportionate focus on romantic entanglements. One of the book’s shortcomings was its brevity, which left little room for the organic growth of its characters. A longer format would have allowed for more depth and nuance in exploring individual character arcs, enriching the overall storytelling experience.

The Ever King Review

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