Book Review: The Emerald Queen by J.W. Webb

Bex's Book Reviews: insights from a book-a-day addict

Cover Image
Cover from Amazon

If you’ve read and liked other books set in this world, my review may be absolutely useless to you. Since I’ve not read them, I’m unable to judge how much of my concerns might be resolved by reading the more of the books.

The information on NetGalley specifically states that this book can be read independently. It’s book one of a new trilogy on the same world as other books the author has written.

However, although I read the entire book, I’m still confused on what was happening. I feel like someone handed me a bag of puzzle pieces and while I was able to put some of them together, there are gaping holes and the connections between them are tenuous and I’m not really sure some of those pieces have quite the right curve to actually go together. I’m definitely lacking the edge pieces.

I want to avoiding risking spoilers, so some of my comments here may come off as obscure. Sorry about that. Even when I do not care for a book, I must be cautious to avoid potentially ruining the experience for someone else who might have different taste.

I also have trouble connecting the book I read to the blurb. For example, it says, “Now she [Ariane] must conquer her own demons before she can face this new enemy head-on.” Yet Ariane barely appears in the book. Of course the blurb is also in a draft state on NetGalley, I assume, so perhaps that has been reworked for release, although this text is also on Amazon now.

I am a reader who prefers character-driven fiction. The blurb I saw contributed to my expectation that this preference would be met. But that I prefer character and the author didn’t write that is not the fault of the author, simply a matter of taste. It does influence my rating. If you don’t share this preference, you can consider the book rated at least one star higher.

The story is told through a wide range of perspectives, some of whom appear very minimally. These numerous and frequent shifts make it difficult for me to connect with any of them and, as someone who isn’t very good at names, some of them tended to blur together. So I didn’t really care much what happened to the characters.

I think the underlying problem, though, was that I really lacked the edge pieces. The world did not make sense to me and none of the names of people, countries, or gods meant a thing. And there wasn’t enough information within this book for me to make sense of it. The conclusion left me feeling blah because I didn’t care about the characters or have enough context.

Some may wonder why I finished it if it wasn’t working. The biggest reason is because I kept hoping the author would pull it all together and everything that confused me would suddenly make sense. Everyone was heading for something, and I thought that it might get put together when that happened. Unfortunately I didn’t get the connections I needed. The second reason is because I don’t like to write negative reviews without finishing the book just in case. Sometimes an author turns things around in a big way and I like to give them that chance. I read quickly, so I’m not usually investing a week in a book, although this one took me more days than usual.

So my conclusion is that one of three things happened or some combination:

  1.  Although the blurb on NetGalley appealed to me I was a very wrong reader for this book.
  2. The book relies more heavily on others in the series than the author realized. It happens easily that an author’s brain fills in information and never recognizes it isn’t all on the page.
  3. Things just didn’t quite come together. I was reading an ARC, so it’s possible significant revisions were made after the copy I accessed.

For me it’s a 2 star read. If you don’t prefer character-driven stories, you can maybe add a star. If you have read and liked others in the world, probably best to ignore me completely.

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