Best Fantasy Book Series

The Queen’s Poisoner

REVIEW

The Queen’s Poisoner is the story of Owen, an eight year-old boy, who is taken hostage by the king as surety for loyalty from Owen’s father, the Duke of Westmarch.

The book was an enjoyable read, but much of it felt like a Young Adult or Children’s book. This is likely due to the protagonist being eight years old. Fortunately, I’m a sucker for a child protagonist, especially if he faces challenges above his age level. 

One thing I liked best was the way the author built his characters. In one passage that I particularly liked, Owen’s character is wrapped within the story, then wrapped again in his world. Instead of a list of attributes about Owen, the author highlights Owen’s interests, which happen to be things that might or might not impact the story. For me, it added an extra level of anticipation about where the story might go. Another example of solid character building was Owen’s fear juxtaposed against Elysabeth Victoria Mortimer’s fearlessness. 

Jeff Wheeler gets extra points for bits of philosophy sprinkled throughout the book. One that I enjoyed was, “Power. There was power in being able to control how other reacted to you.” Another bit was, “The reason most people don’t arrive at a destination is they never embark. They think of all the reasons why they can’t do it, so they don’t even try.”

On the down side, there were a few problems with prose and Owen’s point of view that I found distracting. Here’s an example: “His little heart was breaking to pieces…” This sentence isn’t likely to come from Owen’s internal monologue. Instead, it sounds more like what his mother or older sister might observe. 

Another prose issue I had came from Berwick, who has a thick accent that seems to come and go throughout the book. Several sentences read like these, “I wuddun meddle if it were run sharp. The master tain’t a patient man, nor doz he brook laziness.” Then a little later Berwick seems to have perfect English with “My master may call down a new cook from the North, and then what would you do? But if you mind me and do as I say, all will go well for you.”

The grammar was mostly clean, but I did stumble across a few tense problems. It wasn’t enough to dock any points, but like the point of view issue mentioned above, the tense issues were distracting. 

Although I enjoyed the overall story in The Queen’s Poisoner, by the time I got to the 85% mark I wasn’t feeling the tension I thought I should. I wasn’t invested in what I expected to happen at the end. Then the book ended somewhat anticlimactically. Still, The Queen’s Poisoner is an enjoyable read for the journey (if not the destination). It fits neatly into our “good, but not great” category.

DETAILS

Series Author Rating Must Read Number of Pages Year Published
The Kingfountain Series Jeff Wheeler No 336 2016

AUDIENCE

Young Adults and Teenagers

GENRE

Sword and Sorcery

MAIN   CHARACTER   TYPES

Witches and Wizards