Review of ‘Ember Queen’

Ember Queen brings the battle between sisters-turned-enemies to a thrilling and action-packed finale.

Concluding the journey of Princess Theodosia, Ember Queen focuses on developing her into the Queen her people need while not losing the girl she was.

Theo vs. Cress

Ember Queen
Laura Sebastian
Delacorte Press

What was so clever about the series was how the villain changed midway. In the beginning, the Kaiser was always the villain, the man who killed Theo’s mother and kept her captive as his trophy. But then, when Cress came to power, she became a more dangerous villain after being betrayed by Theo.

I loved that development. Whereas the Kaiser was all brute strength, he was nowhere near as clever as Cress.

Cress becomes the new Kaiserin, killing her husband in the previous book, and using her talent to create more monsters like herself, was ingenious. This is no longer the soft-spoken angel from the first book, the girl who was Theo’s heart-sister. Warped by poison and anger, she is Theo’s foil.

Theo’s journey as well was incredible. I think I’ve said this before, but she reminds me a lot of Sansa Stark from Game of Thrones, the show, not so much the book. She began as a broken girl who had everything taken from her, and now, she is a Queen. She fights and becomes more strategic and contemplative as she takes in those in the room and works to free her people and kingdom from enslavement.

She has gone through such a journey, and seeing her stand her ground and fight the girl she once loved is so impactful to the plot. Theo has to forget the girl Cress was; she has to put their old friendship in the past.

Seeing her struggle to let go of that relationship is relatable and moving. For much of their time together, Cress kept her safe in her own way. But Cress has changed, and so has Theo, and Theo has to learn to recognize that Cress is not the same girl she was before.


Much of Ember Queen is driven forward by the characterization. But that doesn’t mean the storytelling was anything but spectacular.

Sebastian worked to build the story up by also building up those character dynamics. They shift and change, adding to the growth of the plot. In addition, those dynamics give the plot twists more depth, creating a bigger impact on the reader.

Moreover, it moves at an incredible pace. The tension rises and rises from the very beginning until the final showdown between Cress and Theo. Sebastian does not let Ember Queen falter or slow down, keeping the reader engaged in the rebellion and subterfuge Theo and her friends employ in their fight for freedom.

Final Thoughts

Ember Queen is a stunning conclusion. Full of action and character development, seeing two girls who were once sisters grow into enemies gave this trilogy a delightful twist.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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