Review: The Queen of Rhodia by Effie Calvin

Review: The Queen of Rhodia by Effie Calvin

‘It has been sixteen months since Princess Esofi arrived in Ieflaria, and eight since her marriage to Crown Princess Adale. The princesses have a peaceful life together, preparing to become co-regents and raising their baby dragon, Carinth.

Their peace is shattered when Esofi’s mother, Queen Gaelle of Rhodia, arrives in Birsgen. She has heard about Carinth and believes that she deserves custody of him due to her greater devotion to Talcia, Goddess of Magic.

Adale and Esofi have no intention of giving up their son, but Gaelle is impossible to reason with—and there’s no telling what lengths she’ll go to in order to get what she wants.’

I read the first in this series after seeing a post about it on Instagram and I’d been hoping that there would be more in this universe about Esofi and Adale. I haven’t read the second book, as I wasn’t aware of it until seeing this one, but I will be going back to read it! Esofi and Adale have become some of the characters that I’m most fond of and it was lovely to catch up with them and see what had happened since their engagement.

There is a good range of important issues, such as those of gender and sexuality, and the impact of bullying by trusted, familial figures, addressed in this book, but the one that really struck me was how it handled the expectation that women should have children and embrace motherhood on society’s timetable. Esofi and Adale are young in their marriage and already nearly everyone around them expects them to produce an heir, whereas they are content to focus on raising Carinth and are equally apprehensive about motherhood, if sometimes for different reasons. That they did not bow to this pressure and instead continued to decide for themselves what defines a family, while actively talking about their concerns, was wonderful to see. It’s also great to see a world in which everyone’s sexuality and choice of gender is just accepted and that not even the antagonists ever use anything of this nature against other characters or comment negatively on anyone’s choices.

I adore Esofi and found her mother to be a truly hateful character in her treatment of her. How Gaelle has emotionally manipulated her – and her other children – over the years becomes more evident and revolting as the novel progresses, explaining a good deal of Esofi’s behaviour and her worries that Adale might not actually want her, but is only doing her duty. Esofi is not weak, and it is not a case of Adale taking charge and her decisions away from her, though she does take action to protect her from Gaelle and herself when she deems it necessary. It’s more that their strengths complement each other and they step in when they see that the other might need support. I loved that Adale frequently reminds Esofi how much she loves her, especially because it is not done in a fawning manner, but simply to remind her that she is loved and wanted and she sees her strength, when Esofi has spent her life being torn down to conform to precise expectations.

In short: this series is one of my favourites and I really hope that there are more books to follow! The Queen of Rhodia will be published on 27th May! Thank you, NineStar Press for gifting me a copy!

I received an e-ARC of The Queen of Rhodia from Netgalley and the publisher.

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