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The Queen’s Daughter by Susan Coventry

The Queen's DaughterJoan was born into a life of luxury, privilege—and politics. Her mother, the beautiful Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, is a powerful woman in her own right. Her father is the king of England. As a young girl, Joan is immersed in the complexities of life at court, but she doesn’t understand how political squabbles can force people apart until it happens to her parents. She can barely comprehend that her role as a princess is to become a political pawn—to be controlled by others more powerful than her. Joan is forced to learn the hard way when her parents marry her off to the king of Sicily, a weak man ten years her senior that she will never love. Perhaps that is a good thing, because Joan has always been told that love should play no part in politics. But amidst the political and personal upheavals that Joan will face in the years to come, she will start to realize that she can’t let others tell her how to live her life—and that love for a princess and queen may be possible after all.

The Queen’s Daughter is beautifully written piece of historical fiction. It is so clear that Coventry has spent a great deal of time researching the life of Joan, a real historical figure, as well as the varying types of court life, important upheavals, and shifting political alliances. This novel contains just such rich detail to make this portrait of Joan wonderfully vivid. However, while I do think that this was a very well written and constructed novel, I think it would have been better marketed for an adult audience, as opposed to young adult. The problem is that because Coventry’s research and writing is so fully detailed, the story reads a little more like a textbook than a novel. I found myself struggling to get through certain sections of the book because I felt that events were merely being related to me. I was more interested in Joan’s personal story, and readers don’t really get to see much of that until the end of the book. I’m not trying to question the brilliance and beauty of this novel, but I hope readers will understand that The Queen’s Daughter is not quite like other YA historical fiction.

The Queen’s Daughter will be enjoyed by fans of historical fiction, especially readers who liked A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly, A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson, and Sovay by Celia Rees.

Rating: 3.5

Review copy borrowed

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