Long Live the Queen by Kate Locke
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“Xandra Vardan thought life would be simpler when she accepted the goblin crown and became their queen, but life has only become more complicated. Everyone — vampires, werewolves and humans — wants the goblins on their side, because whoever has the goblins — wins.
Queen Victoria wants her head, Alpha wolf Vex wants her heart, and she still doesn’t know the identity of the person who wanted her blood. What she does know is that a project from one of the ‘secret’ aristocrat labs has gotten free and she’s the only one who can stop the perfect killing machine — a sixteen year-old girl. With human zealots intent on ridding the world of anyone with plagued blood and supernatural politics taking Britain to the verge of civil war, Xandra’s finding out that being queen isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and if she doesn’t do something fast, hers will be the shortest reign in history.”
You know, I was hoping that this series was going to be more than just a trilogy, because I’ve really enjoyed it. Locke did a lot towards making her world plausible: giving the Prometheus virus some scientific background; positing what England would look like if ruled not only by a vampire but by the same one for almost 200 years; making the technology both modern and reminiscent of steampunk. By keeping her story set completely within England, and with only a few passing mentions of other countries, the author was able to focus on really developing the British vampiric empire. Normally I would love to see a novel such as this expand into foreign locales, but in this case, I think staying put was a good idea.
Xandra’s character is just as plausible as the world—she’s a well-rounded but imperfect woman, prone to haring off half-cocked when she’s sure she’s right and stewing in guilt and regret when the smoke dies down. She’s fiercely loyal to those she counts as family or as her responsibility, no matter who or what they are. In fact, this trait gets her into a lot of trouble in this novel, but at the same time, you can certainly feel for the bind she’s been put into. Her interactions with those around her feel down-to-earth and natural.
The other characters are just as interesting, too. My favorite is William, the goblin prince and Xandra’s close friend. Where most in this world fear goblins, Xandra learned to value him even before she found out she had goblin blood. The relationship between them is one that you don’t often get in paranormal fiction these days: a male-female friendship that shows true affection without it sliding into romance.
The plot pulls together a lot of the elements from the first two books and brings things around to a satisfying conclusion. Not everything is resolved, but at least the characters have resolved to try to make life better for those that they can. There’s plenty of action on tap, and thankfully some of the more violent confrontations show consequences beyond just a few broken bones. Xandra is forced to consider the feelings of others when she runs off half-cocked and learns some valuable lessons in the process.
I’ll miss seeing these characters in new books, but I am glad that I got to know them. The careful worldbuilding and solid, interesting plots make this trilogy one of the best paranormal fantasy stories out there. Long Live the Queen is a wonderful tale that hits all the right notes for fans of the genre.