By Mette Ivie Harrison
Available now from EgmontUSA
THE ROSE THRONE is the tale of two princesses. Ailsbet is trapped by her position. She cannot inherit the throne, due to her lack of magic and gender, but she must do her duty for her country although she would rather be a musician. Marissa loves her magic and her country, but she must leave to marry Ailsbet's younger brother, in a court more vicious than she's prepared for.
I've heard several books referred to as the YA version of GAME OF THRONES, but rarely have found the comparison apt. I haven't heard that description applied to THE ROSE THRONE, but it's the comparison I'd make. Both are highly political with lots of intrigue, full of characters with fatal flaws, concerned with what makes a good ruler, contrasting good and bad families, and have women carving out spaces for themselves in misogynistic societies. THE ROSE THRONE is similar, but it's still a juicy, compelling fantasy read.
I loved Ailsbet. She's not very social, because of the way her father has raised her and her troubles with magic. But she wants to connect. When she fell in love, I felt for her even though the guy she fell in love with was clearly a jerk who was bad for her. I found Marissa somewhat less compelling, partially because her forbidden love storyline was more conventional. But I still found her parts of the novel interesting and liked the contrast between the two heroines. They're very strong in different ways, but they share a desire to keep their people and countries safe.
The weakest part of the story was the ending. It felt like the set-up to a sequel, but I haven't heard anything about THE ROSE THRONE having a sequel. (I would definitely read one, however.) There is a complete plot, or I would be very unhappy, but the ending happens rather quickly compared to the rest of the novel. And there are such large repercussions to what happens that it would be sad to never get a sequel.
I absolutely loved THE ROSE THRONE. It hits so many of my favorite fantasy tropes, all wrapped up in great writing and an intriguing setting. I haven't read any of Mette Ivie Harrison's backlist, but you can be assured I'm looking into picking up her other books based on the strength of THE ROSE THRONE.