First, before I say anything else about God Save the Queen, I need to applaud Orbit for the design of this hardcover. I never realized, until I had a one-year-old, how annoying dust jackets were on hardcover books. My daughter, darling though she is, manages to find them and destroy them wherever they are. I am now in the habit of taking off the dust jacket as soon as I get the book and hiding it somewhere. Then I take bets with my husband about how long it will be until Fiona finds the dust jacket and ruins it. God Save the Queen is a hardcover, but there is no dust jacket to worry about. The design is right on the cover and it’s wonderful, blissful even, to have that sort of book in my house. Publishers, please make more hardcover books like this one!
I read God Save the Queen right after I had surgery. I needed something a bit lighter to read and this showed up on my doorstep at the right time. Despite how medicated I was, I managed to read this book in about two days, which is impressive.
God Save the Queen takes place in 2012. Queen Victoria rules England, though she is undead. The world is rather steampunk, and filled with vampires, werewolves and goblins, all of which are infected with the plague. The idea is fascinating and Locke twisted some really interesting ideas to create this unique new world. Not only this, but the world is full of hybrids which are half-human, half-(insert paranormal aspect here), which the aristocracy bred to try to expand their numbers.
It’s easy to forget that this all takes place in 2012. The world feels much more 1700s-1800s, which makes the 2012 date feel a bit unnecessary. That said, Locke makes the most of her world by making the aristocracy, society, and culture layered and complex. One of the aspects that is perhaps reflective of the 2012 setting is the heroine, Xandra, who is definitely her own woman. She answers to no one, and is just as tough as any man she runs into, but not in a look-at-how-badass-I-am sort of way. Her natural talent for ass kicking and taking charge of her own future feels very natural, as do some of the sexual undercurrents that circle around her sister. For this, Locke gets huge props.
On the flip side, Locke seems to fall into some urban fantasy stereotypes. Sometimes, no matter how wonderful the world and characters are, some small aspects can hold things back immeasurably. For example, an incredibly gorgeous, highly ranked male in society has an odd habit of popping in and out of events at the most convenient moments. The romance between Xandra and this other person is incredibly predictable and a little rushed, and thus has a rather forced and unbelievable feel. Furthermore, like so many other books, Xandra ends up being far more important than she ever thought she was. Perhaps this is a pet peeve of mine, but the book ends on this sort of cliffhanger, which is, in my opinion, a cheap way to end things and an obvious hook for readers to lure them onto book two of the series.
One thing I wished Locke had touched a bit more on was Queen Victoria herself, an immortal who has ruled the United Kingdom for over 100 years. I was disappointed to find that the woman herself only makes a few brief appearances in the book. She remains a mystery. I would have liked her to play a bigger role somehow, as the sentence “Queen Victoria rules with an immortal fist” was the sentence that really got me reading the book in the first place. You don’t learn more about her than that, however, and I felt that Locke missed a real opportunity there.
That being said, the plot is fast moving and engrossing, despite some of the believability issues. Locke keeps things moving forward nicely. God Save the Queen is a lot of fun and Xandra, while falling into some stereotypes, is an engrossing character who will easily cause readers to detach from reality. While the world is reflective of times gone by, the characters and some of the social issues that Locke deals with are refreshingly modern. God Save the Queen is an interesting blend of steampunk, urban fantasy and fantasy. Though it has some flaws, and is quite predictable, God Save the Queen is a good escape from reality, and sometimes that’s what you really need.
FanLit thanks Sarah Chorn of Bookworm Blues for contributing this guest review.