The Queen's Secret (Rose Legacy book 2), by Jessica Day George

The Queen's Secret, by Jessica Day George (Bloomsbury, May 14, 2019), continues the story begun in The Rose Legacy.    I just read through my review of that one, and was struck by this bit:

 "Me being me, I actually liked all the part before the action and adventure gets going best--orphans exploring new homes and learning to ride is right up my alley!  But I can generously appreciate that many readers do, in fact, enjoy Plot, and so I don't begrudge the wild ride and the political intrigue.  The magic of horse/human communication is something that works better for a child reader; the larger political framework, with hints of imperialism, is more interesting to the adult reader than the love story between girl and horse, but less emphasized in the story."

And so on to The Queen's Secret, which is much more about what is happening in the kingdom, and less about horse love (though that's still here!), and of course Thea, the main character, now has a home and horse and a family.  She doesn't get much time to enjoy them though.  A sickness has been spreading through the kingdom, with many deaths, and most of the people think the horses are to blame.  The kingdom itself is on the brink of war with the kingdom of Kronenhof.  Thea and her friends Jilly and Finn are doing what they can to help, acting as couriers of medicine and news.  Then Thea's evil mother shows up again, and the plot takes a fast tight spin with a set up for a third book that might well be the most plot filled of the series!

Along with Thea, we, the readers, see more of the history of the kingdom in this second book, and more of what the Queen is up against in her efforts to change things (the King is not part of these plans....).  Much of this book is a story of frustration--the set-back of the sickness, with the reluctance of people accept help from the horse couriers is hard on the characters!  But as the book opens up to a bigger story toward its end, there's the promise that change for the better might actually happen (if, of course, war can be averted and Thea's evil mother doesn't keep up her nefarious meddling, which she almost certainly will be doing!).

My only complaint about this instalment of the series is that me being me, I would have like to have stayed longer in the old manor house in the isolated village that's a library/museum, with chapters about the kids sitting around reading books and looking at stuff instead of just the few lovely pages we got, and I wish that one particular part of the ending had been different (I had to skim bits of the ending because of not want to be pained).

That being said, and my own personal feelings set aside, this is a solid fantasy series with strong girls and women, lovely horses, tangled histories and families, and strong friendships. 

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher

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