Rod Duncan’s earlier book, The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter, was one of the most powerful books I’d read in a long time. The follow-up books were just as strong and just like that Rod Duncan became one of my most eagerly-anticipated authors.
The Queen of All Crows continues with the same core set of characters as the Gas-Lit Empire series but moves away from the gritty steampunk London and takes adventure to the high seas. But we don’t deviate far from the world where the Patent Office holds the most power. We’re still in a world of fantastic machines and inventions but now we find our heroine, Elizabeth, stranded on an island of female pirates who have enslaved the men and put Elizabeth through a grueling challenge to determine whether she can live with the other women on the island or be put to death. The Queen of All Crows and her two daughters will determine Elizabeth’s fate. But an attack on their secret land puts Elizabeth at the forefront in a battle she will lose no matter the outcome.
Duncan is an absolute master storyteller. In addition to a well-devised story with a plot that unfolds around us as we immerse ourselves in the story, we get a rich, detailed world that is just different enough from the world we think we know that it has an air of mystery around it.
As real and fantastic as this world and this setting is that Duncan has created, at the heart of the story are marvelous characters.
If you’ve read any of my reviews prior to this you probably know that I’m often focused on the characters and whether or not we buy in to their plight. All of Duncan’s characters are unique, strong in their own way, and fully realized. Even the most minor characters feel like actual people and not just fodder for an author to use for slaughter or filler. This is a real relief as we don’t often see this.
And because we have characters who are so real we find it easy to get invested in what they are doing. Elizabeth is such a marvelously complex character. I’m thrilled that her story didn’t end with the Gas-Lit Empire series. Despite the steampunk sensibility of this story, Elizabeth is a most modern heroine and her adventure here is completely absorbing and well worth reading.
Put Rod Duncan on your Must-Read list.
Looking for a good book? The Queen of All Crows by Rod Duncan continues the adventures of Elizabeth Barnabus – and that’s a very good thing if you like very well-written, character-driven science fiction/fantasy.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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The Queen of All Crows
author: Rod Duncan
publisher: Angry Robot
paperback, 348 pages