Queen of the Sylphs - L.J. McDonald
Review crossposted at The Book Pushers http://thebookpushers.com/2011/09/29/review-queen-of-the-sylphs-by-l-j-mcdonald/#commentsEver since I read the first book of the series, The Battle Sylph, I have fallen in love with the world of the elemental shapeshifting sylphsm and the humorous and fast pace writing of L.J McDonald. So when I had the chance I eagerly devoured the Queen of the Sylphs which is the 3rd instalment of the sweeping, romantic fantasy series. It is a marked departure from the previous two books because the action and the focus of the book is mainly set in and around the new settlement that the Sylphs and humans have set up in the first book. And instead of focusing on a main romantic couple, the book concentrates on a variety of characters including the original hero and heroine, Solie and Heyou, who are now settled in six years after the events in their book. However, intrigue and danger still threatens their new kingdom especially from the neighbouring kingdom, Eferem, who is still smarting from their defeat in the first book. Despite her position, Solie and her people have to thwart assassins, unstable sylphs and the danger within her lands despite being heavily guarded, and the threat is much closer to her than she realises.I really like the fact that with each book, L.J McDonald has portrayed a different aspect and tone with each new installment with this series, and I really think it helps to keep this fresh and different. With this entry to the series, it was nice to see how much Solie has grown from the young and immature girl from the first book, into a more mature and confident woman and the solid place that she has helped to create in her valley and as Queen of the Sylphs. The complications that come along with leading such a diverse and unconventional group of people and sylphs was also realistic, and it was good to see there was development on how this small settlement evolved from the first book.The secondary characters who were introduced really shine, such as Gabralina and Wat who were rescued in the previous book, and are central to the main plot in this book. Their story was bittersweet and, L.J McDonald really surprised me on how she broached their romance. I wasn’t a fan of them when they were introduced in the previous book and I felt there wouldn’t have been much development or potential because although they were humorous and fun, there wasn’t much depth. But Gabralina and Wat to some extent develop as characters with real dimension and depth and L.J McDonald deftly shows her gift in well drawn out characterisations. There is also a new Sylph elemental who is introduced and which I think will be a great addition to the growing cast of characters.Although the focus was on the wider cast of characters — especially on the secondary and minor ones — it did not distract attention from the core action, and the plot didn’t get lost over the course of the book. In fact it really added to the ongoing plot-lines from the previous books and expanded the world-building and characterisation. It was also the most suspenseful and intriguing book to date, and I have to say it was full of twists and turns that made it fast paced and at times, tense.I also have to say that this was the darkest book yet because there were a few deaths, some that really shocked me that I was saddened to see, but that isn’t to say the trademark light-hearted humour wasn’t apparent, which once again Heyou provides in a few scenes which helped to balance out the dark and tense tone in the book. His relationship with Solie also gathers pace and deepens with a new twist, and it was pretty delightful on how that happens.Despite the fact the Sylphs are unable to have children with their human mates, Solie is feeling broody and Heyou’s innovative suggestion on how they can solve this predicament was pretty funny — although I did feel sorry for the 3rd party who becomes the sperm donor. However this was one of my favourite parts of the book and made me laugh out loud on how Heyou approaches him and how he obtained the sample.The Queen of the Sylphs is a great addition to the series, and it may not be as epic in tone or setting as the previous books, but the tense and pacey plot of an enemy within and the trials and tribulations of running a new kingdom adds another layer of depth in this colourful tapestry of characters. Although it was the darkest book yet, the lighthearted moments and the engaging characters really sucked me into the story and I really can’t wait to read more about this series. When I read a Sylph book now it feels like I am being engulfed in their world and stories just like a Battle Sylph holding onto his mate. I highly recommend you read the previous two books — actually the whole series if you fancy a fantasy romance, which surprises, delights and is filled with imagination.I give Queen of the Sylphs a B