Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Long Live the Queen

Long Live the Queen
by Kate Locke
Recommended Ages: 14+

In the conclusion of the "Immortal Empire" series, an alternate-timeline version of present-day Britain teeters on the edge of a civil war between "aristos" (ruling-class vampires and werewolves, plus goblins, who have a queen of their own) and regular humans. The last time there was a human insurrection was early in the 175-year reign of her fanged majesty Queen Victoria, and it's an experience neither she nor newly-crowned goblin queen Alexandra Vardan wants to repeat. They may not have a choice about it, however, with the Human League lobbing bombs and inciting reprisals by the Halvies (half-blood vampires and werewolves) who serve the aristos. Plus, someone is still using secret laboratories to prepare a nasty surprise for the empire, if not the whole world.

Xandra, naturally, is in the thick of it. Her troubles never seem to cease, with first her lover, alpha werewolf Vexation MacLaughlin, then her father, the vampire Duke Vardan, being attacked and nearly killed by a new type of monster. Worse yet, the monster considers Xandra to be her mommy. Worst of all, this shape-changing killing machine has Queen V in her crosshairs. Stopping her will be the ultimate test of Xandra's fighting ability, the love of her lycanthropic mate, and the survival skills of everyone she holds dear.

I will frankly miss this series. After reading God Save the Queen, The Queen Is Dead, and this book, I'm a bit sad to think I may never again read the interjection "Fang me and chew the wound!" Another word that I think I will miss is "cobbleside," a splendid word that can probably have no application outside a universe in which London's Mayfair district is home to an undead subculture. It's a very, very nearby parallel dimension, one in which (for example) the American film Truman Show apparently exists; so it almost feels like home - only ever so much more dark and exciting. In fairness, I have to slap a strong Adult Content Advisory on it, especially out of consideration for Christian families. In this book, they may encounter sexual themes from what I like to call "the cutting edge of societal evolution," and I don't want them to be blindsided. Other than that, chill out and have fun!

Among Kate Locke's other works under a total of four pen-names, mostly period paranormal romances as Kathryn Smith, I am most intrigued by her Kady Cross "Steampunk Chronicles" titles, such as The Girl in the Clockwork Collar and The Girl with the Windup Heart, and her Kate Cross "Clockwork Agents" series, Heart of Brass, Touch of Steel, and Breath of Iron.

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