GOD SAVE THE QUEEN by Kate Locke
Queen Victoria rules with an immortal fist.
The undead matriarch of a Britain where the Aristocracy is made up of werewolves and vampires, where goblins live underground and mothers know better than to let their children out after dark. A world where being nobility means being infected with the Plague (side-effects include undeath), Hysteria is the popular affliction of the day, and leeches are considered a delicacy. And a world where technology lives side by side with magic. The year is 2012 and Pax Britannia still reigns.
Xandra Vardan is a member of the elite Royal Guard, and it is her duty to protect the Aristocracy. But when her sister goes missing, Xandra will set out on a path that undermines everything she believed in and uncover a conspiracy that threatens to topple the empire. And she is the key-the prize in a very dangerous struggle.
I loved this book! The cover art is really eye catching and inviting especially the fanged skull wearing a crown. Kate Locke is an established author but this is her first series in this quasi-steampunk/UF genre. Locke has really taken a fresh approach to a genre that has been swarmed by writers trying to ride the wave of interest in vampires, etc. In a genre where cliched PWP has swamped the market place, GOD SAVE THE QUEEN actually brings a smart sassy tale to the table.
Our heroine is Xandra Vardan, a young 20 something born of a privileged background, trained since childhood to be a member of the elite Royal Guard. The RG is the Secret Service of Xandra’s world – and what a world it is! Queen Victoria is a vamp who has ruled for over 170 years. Pure blood vamps and weres constitute the aristocracy in this world were breeding means everything.
Children are tested from birth to determine if they carry the genetic markers that will make them either aristocrats or protectors of the aristocracy (half-blooded weres or vamps). Fertile human women are tested to see if they have the make-up for procreating with the supes in an effort to increase the ranks of the supe world. A third and greatly feared group of supes lives in the shadows and are commonly referred to as The Plague – goblins.
Locke has created a world where corsets and bustles mix with the supernatural in a modern day setting. A world where a tenuous balance between all races is constantly in flux. When half blooded members of the aristocracy begin to vanish and Xandra’s sister is found dead, a conspiracy theory begins to take on more credence.
Xandra’s world is colorful and original – Locke is setting her own course rather than following well worn paths. The plot is simply executed and intriguing with several sub plots left dangling for the next books in the series. Xandra is brave, flawed and stubborn – a perfect combination for getting into trouble (much in the same vein as Kat from the Night Huntress series) – fight first, ask questions later. And while there are certainly smexy moments, Locke shies away from detailed scenes (PG 13, if you will.) The book is a fun read.
I can’t wait for the next book in the series!