I’m a big fantasy-dystopia fan (the two together create an escapist, but still thought-provoking read) and the Red Queen series is one of my favourites. Having not read the second book for over a year, I wasn’t sure if I’d be as attached to the characters in the third book, but oh how I was wrong. I became so gripped, and found myself captivated by every page, drawn to the characters and unable to think of anything other than this world. I miss this world.
WARNING: even though I’ve tried to keep this review spoiler free, as it is the third book in the series, it may contain clues to the narrative of the first two books.
I found Mare’s journey throughout the book very captivating, especially from a mental health perspective, because Victoria Aveyard actually gave us a realistic story. It definitely wasn’t all sunshine and smiles, and I really felt glad there was a certain grittiness, often lacking in other fantasies and dystopias, which showed the reality of an aftermath of a traumatic event. In the first book we see Mare’s life become turned upside down. In the second, she is broken, having been wildly betrayed, and becomes detached. There was quite a lot of criticism from other readers about how cold and harsh she became, but I disagreed. Being a sufferer of mental health, I could empathise and understand why Mare became that way, Obviously I haven’t had family killed, or live in a society as horrendous as Mare’s, but I still felt Victoria Aveyard gave an accurate representation of the numbness of depression. This translated well into the third book, as Mare is forced to deal with what’s happened whilst in captivity. The first few chapters of the book are less like prose, and more like poetry. The images created are beautiful and something I really tapped into and connected with, because it really showed Mare’s darkness without glamourising it.
One thing I wasn’t so keen on was the feature of alternate chapters in King’s Cage, which were used to be able to show both sides of the society – the rebellion and the capital. Though the alternate narratives were interesting, I personally would have preferred a whole book of just Mare. I think because she’s been the main voice from the beginning of the series, her character and narrative voice is a lot stronger and more developed than Cameron’s, so it more enjoyable to read. Cameron is still an interesting and well-formed character, but she lacks the depth Mare has. Victoria Aveyard is clearly more comfortable writing as mare, as her voice comes across fluidly and realistically, whereas Cameron’s feels forced and only there as a means to drive the narrative (to see what is happening outside of mare’s world).
I thought the narrative flowed well in the book, as it definitely answered a lot of questions from the first two books, even though some of it was quite predictable. Also, the ending feel quite rushed, mainly because I wasn’t ready for it to end. I suppose there wasn’t really much more detail we needed to know near the end, but I did wonder whether I’d missed a chapter because it seemed such a sudden ending. I’m just holding out for the next book, because I’m already pining for the vivid world and characters!