Monday, 29 June 2015

Queen of Tomorrow, by Sherry Ficklin - Review

Queen of Tomorrow, by Sherry Ficklin
Stolen Empire #2
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Release Date:  July 14, 2015
Genre:  Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Pages: 280 paperback, 166 Adobe Digital Editions
Source:  Xpresso Book Tours, NetGalley

Sophie—now Catherine, Grand Duchess of Russia—had a tough first year at Imperial Court. Married at sixteen to Grand Duke Peter, heir to the throne, and settled in their own palace, things are finally looking up. As a new day dawns she thinks only of securing her future and the future of their country during one of the greatest political upheavals of her time. Fighting desperately against forces trying to depose the Empress Elizabeth and put the young Prince Ivan on her throne, Sophie soon finds herself in the middle of a war brewing between her beloved Prussia, and her new empire. But even as she navigates the fragile political landscape, she quickly realizes that she has only begun to discover the tangled web of deceit and infidelity woven over the lavish court of Oranienbaum Palace.

When a strange and delicate alliance forms between the young couple, she glimpses a future of happiness, only to see it lost in a moment at the hands of those who still seek to end her life—and prevent her reign. Out of favor with the empress and running out of options, Sophie will have to sacrifice her own innocence on the altar of Russia if she is to save the nation, and herself. To survive, she will have to do the unthinkable, betray those closest to her and become something greater and more dangerous than she ever imagined she could be… a queen.
Reign fans, and readers interested in the story of Sophia who becomes Catherine the Great of Russia, will love this book!

Young Sophia (also called Sophie), managed by her stage mom, Princess Johanna of Holstein-Gottorp, is married off to Grand Duke Peter (eventually Peter III), heir  presumptive and nephew to Empress Elizabeth of Russia. Peter was actually Sophia’s second cousin in real life.

It’s August 1745 and Russia, as ever, is vast and struggling.

Truly a YA novel as Sophia is just 16 when she is married to Peter (17), Queen of Tomorrow is book #2 in the Stolen Empire series, about Sophia’s rise to power. This is not so much a romance, as a personal telling of  Catherine’s (Sophia is re-christened) struggles though it is a fictional account.

So, we have a story focused on the political machinations of royal life and what Catherine must do to manage her way through the dictums of Empress Elizabeth, the daily issues with her mentally quixotic husband, and her own desire to prove of service to her new nation. Of utter importance is that an heir is produced for the succession of the crown.

I like that we see the old adage, look not to your husband but your husband’s mother, to understand who you’re married to, come into play.  I also think the author strikes an interesting balance showing Catherine wanting her marriage to Peter to work out while becoming clever enough to navigate her way through his mental eccentricities and the political complexities of the time to ensure her own survival.

Peter is sometimes portrayed in film as something of a lunatic. Apparently Catherine in her memoirs calls him ‘an idiot’ and ‘good for nothing,” etc.  Being of German birth, Peter didn’t want to learn Russian and his sentiments fell with his country of origin, which caused him a lot of problems at home in Russia. Was he mad or just a man in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Queen of Tomorrow is well written, and the author gives Catherine a strong, determined, think-for-herself attitude which of course would have been a necessity in her position if she hoped for any success.

I really enjoyed this read and would highly recommend it, especially for those looking for strong heroines in their books. I’m really looking forward to book 3!

Find author, Sherry Ficklin on the Internet here:

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