The Queen Is Dead (The Immortal Empire)
by Kate Locke
Cover Artist: Don Sipley
Review by Gayle Surrette
Orbit Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780316196130
Date: 05 February 2013 List Price $16.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
At the end of God Save the Queen, Xandra Varden was the newly crowned Goblin Queen of England. Though she'd taken the title, Xandra still kept herself aloof from goblinkind and felt betrayed by her brother, Val, and sister, Avery, who'd not contacted her since her goblin heritage became public. The fact that Xandra only found out shortly before didn't faze them. Lord Vex MacLaughlin, the alpha werewolf of England, hadn't turned away and maintained his relationship with Xandra, though it was putting stress on his leadership of the pack.
Penny, Val's transsexual half-brother, contacts Xandra to ask for help. She'd become concerned with people who were disappearing from the club she worked at, Freak Show. Xandra was going to suggest that Penny contact Val who is a Chief Inspector in the Special Branch of Scotland Yard. That's when Penny told her that Val was also missing.
Xandra begins to contact Scotland Yard and her sister, Avery, to see if they knew where Val had gone. No one knew where he was, which was very unlike her brother. So, Xandra begins to investigate.
In the process of investigating Val's disappearance, Xandra must learn to trust the goblins and their abilities. She also reaches out to her family for help, including her mother, Juliet, and half-sister, Claire.
This is the second book of The Immortal Empire and it fleshes out this steampunk Victorian England even more. The search for Val causes Xandra to begin to come to terms with who and what she has become. She must learn to control her new powers as well as learn just what powers she has as a goblin who can pass for human and walk in the daylight. Beyond that she has to learn how to again fit into her family, while protecting and ruling her subjects, and how to balance all of that with her love for Vex MacLaughlin.
The writing is strong and controlled, building up the layers and interactions to pull the reader in and keep them on the edge of their chair, turning pages as fast as possible to find out what happens next and to wait impatiently for the next installment.