The Phenomenal Feminist Dark Fantasy You Need ASAP!!
“You forget I am a woman; courage doesn’t define our character.”
Clocking in at well over 500 pages, Queen & Conqueror by Isabelle Olmo enthralled me with each page. I was utterly entranced while reading this stunning novel. I’m actually a bit nervous trying to write a review that will live up to all the feelings I experienced while reading this first book in The Queen’s Red Guard series.
First, I need to tell you about our queen: Almira. We first meet her as her country is amidst a war with Easima. Her men are dying on the battlefields thanks to the ruthless tactics of King Alton, and she fears endlessly for the life of her husband, High Lord Edgar. When the news is delivered that Edgar has been slain, Almira decides that enough is enough. Continuing the war in inexcusable. Almira’s father raised her like a son, so therefore not only is she well-versed in court politics, but she’s smart, cunning, and ever the strategist. Boldly going against her father’s orders, Almira offers herself in marriage to King Alton in order to bring the war to an end.
“I’m carved from pure will and yes, I will be a queen and a conqueror.”
Now, we need to discuss her protection: The Red Guard. Formed of women with warrior’s training, The Red Guard is an elite bodyguard unit that have sworn their lives and allegiance to Almira, their queen. Consisting of women of all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities, the Red Guard is lead by Captain Sanaa whose badassery is legendary. The most recent addition? The queen’s cousin, Hira. I love the Red Guard because each of the women have a reason to want to fight for their queen. In their eyes, their forged sisterhood is a stronger bond than anything a man could offer them. With Almira heading into a marriage with a man notoriously known as “brother-killer” her Red Guard is the only protection she can trust.
What would a queen be without a wardrobe that would equally bring a king to his knees and win over the hearts of a new country? After sending her Red Guard to track down a legendary seamstress who one dressed her grandmother, Almira comes face to face with a woman who holds more secrets to her past, and whose candor starts Almira down the path of discovery within her own family.
Madness descended over him because for the first time in his wretched life his chest lifted in pride as if he had honor. He began to suspect she was some sort of ancient magical creature, and he was falling into an enchantment.
Finally, I need to tell you about King Alton. This man gives big Beast vibes to Almira’s Belle vibes, if you catch my drift. Almira’s slow but steady relationship with Alton grows with each passing day, and as tensions rise to the North, when their latent passions finally ignite, I knew I wasn’t going to recover. Their romance is slow, but so delicious. Building from animosity to friendship and mutual respect. It’s the opposites attract that I adore. Each of their interactions is crucial to their romantic climax. Their trust in each other is hard-earned, and when Almira finally realizes the depth of Alton’s feelings for her, prepare for all the swooning.
Queen & Conqueror is all about the power of a woman, the love of a woman, and the fierce determination of women coming together in order to save the people they love the most. Isabelle Olmo’s storytelling is vivid and fast-paced. Queen & Conqueror is easily one of the best epic fantasies that I’ve ever read and while the ending is an incredible whirlwind of emotions, I cannot wait to see what’s in store for reader with her next installment, The Lady of Istok, which follows our dear Hira’s journey as war with the Norrians in the North becomes reality.
“No, you’re not what I expected. You’re a lot more. The reality of you is far better than any artistic rendition.”
Queen & Conqueror as well as the next book, The Lady of Istok (which I will be diving into shortly) are currently available. If you can’t tell, I absolutely loved Queen & Conqueror and highly recommend it. If you adore anything with fierce girl power vibes, kick-ass heroines, and divine feminine badassery then this is the book for you!
Jes is a self-proclaimed bookworm, who recently moved from the PNW back to the Midwest. When her nose isn’t in a book, she’s spending time with her husband, two kids, and her three fur babies, or exploring the globe. She also firmly believes that you should start the day with coffee, and end the day in bed with a good book.