This is a review for Queen of Someday (Stolen Empire Series book 1) by Sherry Ficklin. It’s the first of a trilogy and is free to download (although it’s also available as a box set). It’s historical fiction about the rise to power of Catherine The Great of Russia.
I was slightly disappointed by this book for a lot of reasons. After reading the blurb and a few of the amazing reviews about it, I was excited. I love historical fiction when it’s done well and although I don’t know much about the Russian Empire, it’s a new fascination of mine. Once again, I fear, the fault lay in my expectation. I was expecting something far richer and deeper than I received.
Part of the issue is that I wasn’t sure what category the book was aimed at. Going by the cover and the blurb I was expecting adult fiction. Instead, it very much reads as young adult fiction. It’s in the first person present POV and it felt like a short read, maybe 60k words? Parts of the story felt rushed and while I think the wild emotions have a lot to do with the fact that the protagonists are all young (the book is set around the time of Sophie’s 16th birthday), I had to keep reminding myself that she was young and impetuous. It didn’t feel like a seamless flow throughout the book. It wasn’t just the emotions that felt rushed; often I wanted just a little more description. I mean, it’s Russia at the height of her power. Lavish opulence was the order of the day. It was the era of the Winter Palace, the crazy wedding gowns…I just wanted a sense of that and it felt lacking somehow.
There were a few errors with tenses and several spelling mistakes throughout the book, but much of the language is beautiful. I liked all the quotations from the greats, especially Marlowe. They were woven in perfectly with the romanticism of the story. The bittersweet romance and loneliness of it was well presented and it was a stark reminder of the lack of power and value of women in those days. You were nothing but a pawn unless you were manipulative and clever.
I wasn’t enamoured enough to download the rest of the trilogy but I feel that to be fair I should state here that had I gone into it expecting a young adult novel, I probably would have enjoyed it. I think it would appeal to fans of the series Reign. It has the potential to be a fascinating and powerful story. It just wasn’t what I expected.