Review: Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran

rebelqueeniiiPublisher: Touchstone
Release Date: March 3, 2015 (US)
Pages: 355 pages
Genre: Historical (Adult)
Source: physical library loan
Rating: ★★★★

For nonreaders, life is simply what they touch and see, not what they feel when they open the pages of a play and are transported to the Forest of Arden or Illyria. Where the world is full of a thousand colors for those who love books, I suspect it is simply black and gray to everyone else. A tree is a tree to them; it is never a magical doorway to another world populated with beings that don’t exist here.

I’ve mentioned this book two or three times (including The Friday 56) in the last couple of weeks and I’m so happy to say I finally finished reading it! This is the kind of book that I would usually devour in just a few days, but unfortunately it took me over a week. On the plus side, that gave me more time to think about the book and the writing.

Rebel Queen, despite its name, is not entirely about Queen Lakshmi. Or about the Indian Rebellion. The story really belongs to Sita, one of her female guards. In fact, the book is much more about Sita and the other female guards than it is about Queen Lakshmi. That was a surprise at first, but one that I came to enjoy. I loved learning about Sita and her family, and her relationships with her father and sister were my favorite in the book. The relationships between the Durgavasi were extremely complex and, though I didn’t mind that, I wanted a bit more friendship in the book. I also would have preferred either a better romance or none at all. Overall, this book includes some great female relationships, good and bad, and that’s not something you see (or read) everyday.

There was a lot about Sita that I adored. First of all, her love for books. Her father introduced her to books and a lot of writers, mostly European (which I found to be an interesting choice). Secondly, her love for her sister Anu. Their relationships from the beginning of the book to the end was absolutely beautiful and I don’t think I would have enjoyed this book half as much if it hadn’t been there. Rebel Queen was written in such a way that I almost felt like Anu was my little sister as well, and that was nice. It made me feel for the characters even more.

I also need to mention the historical events featured in the book. If you’re interested in a book about the Indian Rebellion of 1857, this may not be the book for you. That was a major event in the book, but it didn’t begin until (roughly) the last 100 pages. The Rebellion felt rushed to me and that did pull me out of the book for a bit. There was definitely a slow build up to it, and after reading the entire book, I came to appreciate that. Thinking back on the book after finishing it has caused me to notice and remember details that I originally missed or didn’t register at first.

I’m giving this book 4 stars because it was a fascinating look at a time and culture I know just a bit about, and the characters all had their own wants, personalities, and histories. This could have easily been a book just about the Rhani of Jhansi, but Moran did a wonderful job with the other characters. I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much if it was only about her. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to learn more about her because she seems to be an overlooked female leader. Other than her name, I didn’t know anything about her, so I’m going to be doing some personal research on her.

According to Goodreads, a couple of similar books are The Tiger Queens by Stephanie Thornton and Child of the Morning by Pauline Gedge. For more information about Rebel Queen, visit Goodreads.


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