*Warning: Contains spoilers for book one*
After the action and upheaval of book one, feisty heroine Xandra Vardan is back in The Queen is Dead by Kate Locke, the second book in The Immortal Empire series.
The disappearance and death of her sister Dede in book one paved way for the knowledge that Xandra Vardan is not a half-blood vampire, but a half-blood goblin. Not only that, but she is the next Goblin Queen of England when she is ready to take the crown. This places her at the heart of the nation’s hatred for the goblins, as the humans want her dead whilst the vampires and wolves are vying for her political alliance to ensure a role of power.
Her role as a goblin is not her only worry, as at the beginning of the novel she learns of the disappearance of her brother, Val. He was investigating halvie disappearances from the club known as Freak Show, although his superintendent knows nothing of his investigation and there are few clues to be found. Xandra calls on her goblins to help her find her brother, knowing they have surveillance set up throughout London, but at the same time feels guilty about only seeking them out when she wants something. She claims she is ‘not ready’ to face all of her problems, including the politics of being the Goblin Queen, and is luck to have sexy alpha were Vex MacLaughlin to rely on.
She is desperate to seek out any clues that might lead to her brother, jumping from lead to lead with Vex’s help. Her investigation leads her across London, to forbidden horror shows and the implication that the same aristocrats from book one might have reared their heads once more. They were determined to carry out illegal experiments on halvies, many of a sexual, impregnating nature to see what results would ensue, and after Xandra’s newly awakened state as a goblin she believes that they might have taken her brother because of her unique genes.
I loved the first book in this series as it was exactly my kind of read: a kick-ass heroine, a reliable love interest and a sinister mystery plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Needless to say, this second episode in Xandra’s story did not disappoint and was just as exciting as the first. I was a little sceptical at first as the plot sounded overly similar to book one, what with another of Xandra’s siblings being missing or taken, but I was soon hooked. The writing style is infectious, and draws you in to the alternative world of London created by Locke.
One of the main reasons I love this series so much is because of the heroine, Xandra. She is incredibly feisty and strong, as well as having an intelligent mind which allows her to make the leaps between clues. I love how independent she is, but at the same time is not afraid to show a more vulnerable side to Vex, although she is reluctant to rely completely upon him. This book saw her undergo an immense mental struggle, as she is unsure about accepting the Goblin crown and about the changes in her own body. She craves blood and flesh and is finding it difficult to control her urges, especially when she gets angry or backed into a corner. Her fangs elongate and her face transforms, and the desire to rip into flesh is a constant internal battle. I really liked the mental processes the author gives us, as the series is written in Xandra’s first person and gives us a direct insight into her inner workings, which really helps to understand her character better.
Another reason why I like this series so much is because of Xandra’s love interest, Vex MacLaughlin. He is strong, sexy and dependable, but also knows exactly when to give Xandra the space she needs and seems to have a sixth sense for when she needs him the most. It is clear how much the pair care about each other, even though they are yet to say those three little words. Kate Locke has succeeded in creating a hero who is protective but not overbearing, and powerful but prepared to take a backseat to Xandra’s strong will. What I also liked was the fact that this series does not have a love triangle to contend with, even thought it looked like one was about to be introduced towards the end of this book. Vex is reliable, and it’s easy to tell that he will not leave Xandra’s side unless there is some serious upheaval, which makes him that much easier to love.
Aside from Vex and Xandra, the series also has a strong cast of supporting characters, with her sister Ophelia taking a larger role in this book and proving to be someone whom can be relied upon after all. There was also the ongoing conflict between Xandra and her siblings as they were struggling to come to terms with their sister being a goblin as much as she was. The family comes together to form a united front in finding Val and I particularly liked Penny, their transvestite sister who was the first to alert both Val and then Xandra to the disappearances at her workplace of Freak Show.
I loved the twists and turns the plot presented me with, and was particularly shocked by some of the lab experiments which were detailed throughout. There were some sinister interactions with the aristocrats which are waiting to be explored in book three, as well as something I’m sure we’re yet to find out about the goblins. The only reason this book hasn’t quite reached a 4.5 or 5 star rating for me was some of the more obscure descriptions in the book. As much as I love Xandra’s wit and humour, sometimes her lines were a little too over the top and had me rolling my eyes. I also felt that the disappearance of another sibling was repetitive, despite the formation of a brilliant story. I still can’t wait for book three, and highly recommend this series.
Another fast-paced and witty adventure featuring a heroine feistier than any other, this latest instalment in The Immortal Empire series will leave you laughing out loud at Xandra’s brilliant one-liners and inability to think before she acts. The plot has twists and turns that aren’t always predictable, with Xandra’s determination holding everything together. Her romance with Vex is hot and steamy, and the action scenes never fail to pack a punch.
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
- God Save the Queen
- The Queen is Dead
- Long Live the Queen
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