Goodreads: Long May She Reign
Published: Feb. 2017
As twenty-third in line to the throne, Freya never expected to be queen. But someone poisons nearly the entire court at a banquet and suddenly the reclusive teen is expected to rule a nation. Unfortunately, Freya never paid much attention to the court or to the country. She imagines she can leave the ruling to the council but, with a murderer still at large, trusting others may cost Freya her life.
“Perhaps you’ll have to kiss him again, if you’re not sure. Gather more evidence. In the name of science.”
Long May She Reign is one of those books with a protagonist readers are supposed to cheer because she “isn’t like the other girls.” Unfortunately, this makes her all too much like a host of other YA protagonists. Freya, you see, would rather conduct experiments in her lab than attend to the court. And she detests girls like Madeleine Wolff who are pretty and adept at navigating social situations with wit and grace. After all, who needs social skills when you’re so much more intellectual than all those other rich people?
To be fair, Freya does grow throughout the book. She learns that she really should have been paying attention to the rules of court if she wants to survive there. And she begins to learn that there are people in the city with larger problems than “my dad wants me to go to a party and I don’t wanna.” Readers will likely want to cheer her along her journey because she comes across as such an underdog. As twenty-third in line to the throne and a teenager, she’s really like a lamb being thrown to the wolves. She assumes she can trust other people in the court to attend to matters that they are supposed to know more about. She has to find out the hard way that there’s a difference between relying on others’ knowledge and being negligent.
But I didn’t pick up this book for Freya; I wanted a book with court intrigue. In this regard, Long May She Reign did a decent, if not spectacular job. We do see some of the inner workings of court politics and those politics make more sense than most of the politics I see in YA. I’m still wondering why Freya has so much free time and freedom to go sneaking around the castle and the city–with a man!–(doesn’t she have…laws to read and sign off on? or something?) and I didn’t find the ending overly convincing. (It assumes that the populace is ignorant and susceptible, which seems odd. I didn’t get the general impression that science was something that could easily delude scores of people, many of whom are educated. Unless we are supposed to accept the implied explanation that religious people are…dumb and not interested in science?) However, I recognize that most readers of YA don’t share my enthusiasm for logical plots, so I don’t think these attributes will hurt the story for the general reader.
Long May She Reign is a fairly standard YA fantasy. It features a typical “different than the others” heroine, a romance that falls into tropes towards the end, and an over-simplified vision of politics. Still, it’s not a bad way to spend a few days.