In Except the Queen, two faerie sisters, Serana and Meteora, accidentally learn a scandalous secret about the faerie queen and let it slip. For their transgression, the two women are separated and banished to mortal Earth to live among humans. They are completely adrift in this new world, and if that weren’t bad enough, their new human bodies are old and overweight.
I think Except the Queen is meant — at least in part — as an exploration of aging. Most of us don’t get magically zapped into older bodies overnight, true. But I think most of us feel sometimes like our aging bodies, with their aches, pains, and gray hairs, aren’t really our “true” bodies. We still feel like the same person we were at 16, 18, 20, so who is this stranger in the mirror with the crow’s feet? And I think we all feel disconnected, sometimes, from the new generation of young people: their slang, their fashions, etc.
Unfortunately, in Except the Queen, this alienation sometimes seems to tip over the line into “Kids These Days”/”Get Off My Lawn.” Kids these days use the F-word and the S-word. Kids these days party too much. Kids these days get tattoos! I’m not sure, at 32, whether I’m supposed to side with the older women against the young hooligans or whether I’m supposed to feel like a hooligan myself.
I’m also disappointed that the Latino character’s Spanish is wrong. I don’t mean slang. I mean using ustedes to refer to a singular person, that kind of thing. It’s strange, because this would have been pretty easy to research and get right.
Most problematically, the plot just doesn’t have a lot of forward momentum, at least for me. The prose is beautifully crafted, but the story is not keeping me turning pages.
This is really a “DNF-for-now” rather than a “DNF-forever.” I’ve greatly admired both Jane Yolen’s and Midori Snyder’s work in the past, and on the strength of that work and of the lovely writing in Except the Queen, I think I’ll probably give it another shot someday. Maybe the second time will be the charm.