The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers. To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.
Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the center of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control. But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?
The Silvers hold the highest ranks in society; they are privileged, rich, and beautiful. Mare, however, is a Red; she steals money for her family and they work for the Silvers or are sent to war. Mare has some ideas about how to steal more money to help her family in a desperate time, but these go awry. Instead of being executed or punished, she finds herself in a job at the palace, thanks to a compassionate man she meets on the street. But it turns out that working in the palace isn’t a stroke of good luck after all.
There is a fantastic ensemble of characters in this book, from the cruel and snobbish Silvers, to the bitter and enraged Reds. Nobody is happy in this society where there is constant war and attacks on both groups. There is an added element of technology with most of the Silver King’s guard consisting of sentinels, security, and soldiers. We have the King, the Queen, their two sons, and the rest of the royal court. They are privileged and have been trained by the best. Their powers are strong and used on everybody, and there are not many secrets in the Palace.
Mare is trained for a higher position in the court, which strengthens her powers. She is mostly hated by the royal family, but seems to have found a friend in Maven and a love interest in Cal; both are Princes and both want change. There is as much focus on the characters as there is on the world building. With the addition of technology and powers, the battle and training scenes are fantastical and large, with some taking place in arenas. There are many people that get hurt, die, and there is a constant paranoia that you can never trust anybody.
The narration is all told from one perspective: Mare’s. There are plenty of action scenes and the characters are unrelenting and set in their ways. When there is powerful magic involved, it can be intimidating and challenging. Mare has just discovered her powers and everybody around her has been trained since birth, leaving her reliant on anybody who seems trustworthy. We get a fully rounded world with its history to draw us into the story.
Having recently read the Selection Series by Kierra Cass, and Pawn by Aimee Carter, I often found myself trying to compare the stories. Red Queen stood out among the others due to the greater detail in the world building and the complexity of the unravelling story. There were fun plot twists, along with a couple of shocking ones that have driven me crazy because I want to read more. I was impressed with the way this story was put together and I was flying through the pages of the last third of the novel to see how it ended. It’s a bit sci-fi and a bit fantasy, with battling kingdoms and servant standing against their rulers. Red Queen was an entertaining story that I definitely recommend you read.