Favorite Lines: “Fear and instinct propelled me to flight. If not for the violent downpour, I might have lost myself in the glorious feeling of riding the wind, but the rain beat down against me with tiny fists.” (p. 73)
First, I’ve gotta tell y’all I’m not a fan of the cover. It catches the eye, but based on the cover alone I would not have purchased this book. I was given a copy to review.
Heaven can go to hell.
Until her cousin slaughtered the supernal family, Anazakia’s father ruled the Heavens, governing noble Host and Fallen peasants alike. Now Anazakia is the last grand duchess of the House of Arkhangel’sk, and all she wants is to stay alive.
Hunted by Seraph assassins, Anazakia flees Heaven with two Fallen thieves—fire demon Vasily and air demon Belphagor, each with their own nefarious agenda—who hide her in the world of Man. The line between vice and virtue soon blurs, and when Belphagor is imprisoned, the unexpected passion of Vasily warms her through the Russian winter.
Heaven seems a distant dream, but when Anazakia learns the truth behind the celestial coup, she will have to return to fight for the throne—even if it means saving the man who murdered everyone she loved.
I was expecting book one of Jane Kindred’s House of Arkhangelsk series to be racy. I thought it might have a menage type feel, but I was wrong. The Fallen Queen is not what I imagined, nor is it the type of book I normally read. I was uncomfortable with much of the book which involved BDSM, a gay couple and a 17-year-old getting it on with a much older man. If I had known any of those themes were included in the story, I would not have read it.
As it was, I almost stopped reading the book several times. It was interesting enough that I wanted to know where it was going, but the themes–oh, the themes–about drove me mad.
The story is told in first and third person. I was never confused with the POV switch; it was clear and well written. One of the biggest obstacles to my enjoyment of the story was the words used. For example, the names of people, places and items were hard to pronounce, define and keep clear. Words like: Belphagor, Paimon, Raqia, Anazakia Helisonovna, Arkhangel’sk, perferans, Elysium, Omeliea, Aravoth, Pyriphlegethon, Empyrean, Aeval and aeth. The Russian words which were interspersed within the text didn’t help.
I’m extremely uncomfortable with BDSM and I’m not interested in gay or lesbian themed stories. I don’t mind as much if there’s a scene involving male-male or female-female. I still feel awkward and prefer to read about heterosexual couples, but I can choke it down. In The Fallen Queen, the two main male characters have a romantic history together. They participate in a BDSM lifestyle and begin to rekindle it (along with oral sex) while on their journey with Anazakia, the heroine. There are many undertones that I’m unfamiliar with in the book and they all revolve around BDSM and the gay and lesbian world.
The underaged heroine’s head is shaved and she is dressed to look like a man. She is called “boy” and has her breasts bound. At different points, she is interested in both of the men. Because she only interacts with the gay couple and is sexually attracted to a clearly gay man (although later she is attracted to the gay man who considers himself bi-sexual), I think the gay community would call her a “fag hag.” I don’t know. It was too much.
Add to that the scene where the male couple is enjoying whipping and being whipped, prison rape and forced degradation and I was pushed too far. I’m sure there are other things. So, yeah, the story is about fallen angels and demons and a fight to control heaven. In the end I was so distracted by the details that I lost track of the actual point of the story.
When push comes to shove I read for enjoyment. I don’t want to be depressed when I finish reading a book. I don’t want to feel conflicted. I have enough problems in life that when I finish reading a book I want to know that someone–even an imaginary someone–can have a happy conclusion. Now there’s room in that for a lot of leeway. But at the end of The Fallen Queen I never felt that there was hope of any type of satisfactory ending. SPOILER***SPOILER***SPOILER***DON’T READ ON IF YOU DON’T WANT TO READ A SPOILER***SPOILER***SPOILER
I watched him go, reluctant to relinquish the elemental stirring his touch sparked in me, but pleased at the new pride in his step. Though I couldn’t be what Belphagor was to him, I’d given him something the demon could not. I kissed the top of Ola’s head. Whatever bond I had with Vasily, I was on the outside of a relationship so intense I could only admire it from afar, like the Aurora Borealis. It left an emptiness inside me, a longing for that sense of wholeness they had in one another.–p. 328