Title: The Hundredth Queen (The Hundredth Queen #1)
Author: Emily R. King
Publisher: Skyscape, 2017 (June 1)
Genre: YA Fantasy
**I received an ARC of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**
Yes, this is officially the last book of 2017! Crazy. Once this review is written, I’ll be able to see my book count in its entirety. (Well, there is another indie book I will review, but this feels like the last big one, you know?)
Is it just me, or is time literally moving faster? I know it can’t just be me. Maybe it’s because I’m old? Who knows! 🤷♀️
I want to say that this book has received a LOT of mixed reviews…and I just don’t know why. I was hesitant for the longest time to read it because I really loved Emily and I didn’t want to dislike her book. I kept reading about tropes and stereotypes in other people’s reviews…I guess I see what they are saying, but I personally really enjoyed it. Maybe I’m just a sucker for the formula. I don’t even notice it anymore. So maybe my opinion will be biased. Just warning you now.
You know I like to start with the covers…and this one is as drool-worthy as most of the recent books:
Jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Not only did I have this one on NetGalley, but a friend donated a copy for my classroom library. Someone else is sending me the next two so I have the most recent books in the series since I must continue now that I started. I wanted to start the sequel, The Fire Queen, right after this one…but one thing led to another, and I ended up reading something else. But I plan on reading the next one ASAP.
But enough about me. Let’s talk about The Hundredth Queen. Kalinda is a ward of the Sisterhood, a holy group of women that raise the wards to wed men or become their servants. She has always been sickly, suffering from intense fevers as a child. Along with her best friend Jaya, she longs to stay at the temple instead of being married off to some strange man…or worse, made his courtesan (essentially a mistress to a married man).
When Kalinda is chosen to be the rani for the Rajah, she is devastated. Not only does she not want to be one of his many wives, she definitely does not want to be his HUNDREDTH wife. As the hundredth wife, or rani, she is expected to battle with the other women in the Rajah’s life…to the death. If she wins, she will be the Rajah’s last wife. If she loses, she will die. And there are plenty of courtesans that would rather be a wife than a glorified prostitute to the king and his men.
An image of courtesans and their prince
While Kalinda prepares, she continues to take her tonic to keep her fevers at bay. But when a Bhuta, or demon spirit, appears to Kalinda and shows her what she is capable of, she is terrified. She can control fire 🔥 – and if someone were to find out, she would be in danger. The Rajah, Terek, has been hunting Bhutas…some control wind, fire, earth, and water. The Bhutas are fighting the Rajah for control of the land, and if Kalinda was one, she would be thrown in the dungeon and killed. So not only does Kalinda have to deal with these emerging powers, she must ready herself to defend her spot as the Hundredth rani, or Viraji.
As the days to her wedding and the fight gets closer, Kalinda also finds herself growing closer to Deven, her personal guard. The last woman to run off with a lover saw her lover killed in front of her when he was caught…and then she too was put to death. How can Kalinda fight these feelings that will surely lead to disaster? How can she prepare to be queen when she must battle women to the death…especially some women she knows? And how can she hide her growing powers over fire?
Kalinda is strong…but how strong can she really be when death is at every turn?
Is it Classroom Appropriate?
Yes! Yes yes yes! This book has excellent references to old practices: multiple wives, courtesans, and gods/goddess that allude to ancient gods in history. We have a strong female heroine: Kalinda is strong despite her lack of power in her situation. The fantasy adds elements that appeal to fans and the historical fiction appeals to others. It’s got quite a bit of crossover appeal in different genres.
Comparisons could be made to other cultures and practices. The Bhutas themselves as fascinating as they are thought by people to be demons because they can control elements…which could lead to a discussion about how we fear what we don’t understand. Lesson plans dealing with Indian customs and the influence of the attire and culture in the book could be created. There is a plethora of material to work with. I can definitely see using it. It does end on a cliffhanger and I prefer standalones to series books in the classroom, but I think it would cause those interested in the book to seek out the rest of the series on their own.
This is why for classroom use, I give The Hundredth Queen ★★★★☆.
This book definitely can be used with some creativity and planning.
Of course I can’t find a Lexile score, but I’m still hoping one day that they will add more books to their site. I would probably say that it’s more of a high school read because of some of the passionate scenes between Kalinda and Deven…but there’s nothing smutty or indecent. I’d be comfortable letting my niece read it and she’s 13. The concept of courtesans and what they *ahem* “do” is something that must be kept in mind if you are cautious, but if there are YA books about sexual abuse and rape, then there should also be books about sex workers who had no choice in the matter. So if you’re a parent who is overly cautious, you might want to just be aware that the subject is discussed…but it’s not discussed with great detail or in a vulgar way. If anything, it shows how poorly women were treated. And this is something all young women should know about.
A photo of a courtesan circa 1860s – see the emptiness in her eyes?
I’ve read a lot of reviews on this one. I was so surprised that I loved it that I thought there must be something wrong with me. Mind you, I try to stay away from reviews before I read a book, but I looked at a couple and was pretty sure I wasn’t going to like it. Then I loved it. And then I read more reviews….and the common theme is this: people either really liked it or hated it. Normally on a book like that, I’m pretty in the middle, but honestly I LOVEDThe Hundredth Queen! I did!
To put it simply:
I loved it. I honestly loved it. I could barely put it down. I know some of you won’t, so remember, this is just MY opinion. I couldn’t help loving this book and I cannot help wanting to read The Fire Queen with my entire being. I need more Kalinda. I need more Emily R. King.
So it’s pretty obvious to you (I’m sure) what this rating is going to be. And I even had some time pass and read some books in between this one…so that totally proves it to me. I’m a fan. And I’m going to give it a whole ★★★★★.
I’m just reading a ton of good books lately! I haven’t had to force myself to get through a single one. So I’m on a super reading binge right now! I haven’t been in a slump because they have just been that good. I even just finished Otherworld and I barely can contain myself for that review. It’s going to be awesome to write.
Here’s the back cover of the book in case I did a horrible job summing it up.
I’m not sure how big that will show up…but here’s a great image I found online that I had to share with a quote from the book. (This is not mine but I also couldn’t find to whom it belonged)
I will leave you with the stunning cover of the next book in the series, The Fire Queen!
See ya later, bloggerinis! 😘❤️