The wait is over, but can you have too much of a good thing?
Lady of the Drowned Empire Book Cover Lady of the Drowned Empire
Drowned Empire
Frankie Diane Mallis
Seven Queens Press
February 12, 2023

Blindsided by their aunt’s betrayal and stripped of the protections of their station, Lyr and her sisters’ only hope of survival is to throw themselves into the dark intrigue of the Bamarian Court. As Meera and Morgana struggle to hide their illegal magic while living amongst their enemies, Lyr uncovers long-buried secrets from her mother that may finally unlock her power.

But the Imperators are determined to set decades-long plans into motion, with Lyr’s true identity placing her at the center of their game.

As Morgana’s magic intensifies to its breaking point, she comes face to face with the Lumerian Empire’s most insidious secret—one that threatens her and Meera’s lives.

To save her sisters, Lyr must escape Bamaria with Rhyan. Though they’re being hunted by demons and tracked across borders by the Empire’s forces, they’re determined to solve the puzzle Lyr’s mother left behind. But claiming Lyr’s power may not be enough as an ancient evil returns to Lumeria.

My feelings on this installment of the Drowned Empire series are nothing short of perplexing. No one can claim I’ve been docile when it comes to singing the praises for Frankie Diane Mallis and her writing. All my past compliments are still applicable. My objections sit in the fact that my past thoughts feel a little too applicable.

Lady of the Drowned Empire picks up right where its predecessor left off, with one massive change. We’ve got a second POV people! Ring the bells, alert the elders, the whole shtick cause it’s happened! It’s not constant. We still spend the majority of our time with Lyr, but now we also get chapters with her older sister Morgana, the jaded middle sister cursed with the ability to hear thoughts, as she works to unravel another of the empire’s cruel mysteries. Having discovered both her true identity and her aunt’s scheming, Lyr and Rhyan need to navigate the political plots closing in on them while hiding their illicit relationship and working to unlock her magic.

Generally speaking, this book has all the elements that I’ve enjoyed in the series so far. Plus the culmination of a slow-burn romance. On paper that’s all I could ask and definitely nothing to scoff at. Where I struggle is how overly familiar the delivery of these attributes felt this time around, not only to the past books in the series but also throughout this book. Some of the scenes and conversations gave me a feeling of deja vu and overall repetitiveness that left me wanting. Especially given that this is an absolutely huge book, clocking in at 516 pages, it’s difficult when the plot doesn’t feel like it advances at a proportionate rate. This is said with the caveat that I read the previous installments very recently, but given the cliffhanger we were left with I’d assume many read these at a similar pace.

The saving grace for this book was Morgana’s chapters. While some of the Lyr sections felt overdone, Morgana injected new life into this story. I enjoyed not only the new layers of intrigue we discovered when it came to the Empire’s villainous intent but also the puzzle and full-on sketchiness of her mysterious man.

Frankie Diane Mallis consistently provides us with twisty, riveting storytelling. My qualms lay in the fact that portions of this felt more like an indulgence instead of the character growth and beautiful world-building I’ve come to expect in her work. Despite this, the Drowned Empire series is not one to be missed, and have faith that Mallis will continue to surprise me!