Tuesday, 19 March 2019

The True Queen by Zen Cho

The True Queen by Zen Cho
Published in the UK by Pan Macmillan on Thursday, the 21st March 2019.

One of my 2019 New Release Challenge reads and one of my WorldReads from Malaysia

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fairyland’s future lies in doubt . . .

The enchanted island of Janda Baik, in the Malay Archipelago, has long been home to witches. And Muna and her sister Sakti wake on its shores under a curse, which has quite stolen away their memories. Their only hope of salvation lies in distant Britain, where the Sorceress Royal runs a controversial academy for female magicians. But the pair travel via the formidable Fairy Queen’s realm, where Sakti simply disappears.

To save her sister, Muna must learn to navigate Regency London’s high society and trick the English into believing she’s a magical prodigy. But when the Sorceress Royal’s friends become accidentally embroiled in a plot – involving the Fairy Queen’s contentious succession – Muna is drawn right in. She must also find Sakti, break their curse and somehow stay out of trouble. But if fairyland’s true queen does finally return, trouble may find her first . . .

The True Queen is Zen Cho's spelling binding second book. It's set in a sparkling version of Regency London, with a fairy tale twist. And although it's set in the same world as her award-winning novel, The Sorcerer to the Crown, this reads as a standalone.

Unsurprisingly for me, I hadn't read Zen Cho's first Sorcerer To The Crown novel before launching in to The True Queen so I am fortunate that this second book doesn't require readers to have any previous knowledge. I understand that the stories take place within the same world and there is some overlap of characters, but I never felt as though I had missed out on anything by picking up The True Queen first. Indeed I am now tempted to treat myself to The Sorcerer To The Crown!

The True Queen takes place as much in magical locations as in Malay or English ones. I appreciated Cho's deft descriptive writing which allowed me to clearly envisage the places in which our characters found themselves, however I never felt any slackening of pace as we looked around. There are enchanted forests, dank caves and the vast Fairy Court Palace as well as the 'real' places: Muna's Janda Baik island home and the bustle of Regency London. I was less convinced by the historical setting than the magical locations, perhaps because I have read quite a lot of Regency stories over the years - Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer for example - and, while I can't put my finger on anything specifically anachronistic, I sometimes felt as though the language and behaviours in The True Queen were more suited to a later period.

That said, I enjoyed spending time with Muna, Sakti and the characters surrounding them. I worked out the solution to their predicament fairly early on, but that didn't detract from the intricacies of their journey. I think fans of Vered Ehsani's Society For Paranormals series would appreciate reading The True Queen (and Zen Cho fans might like to give Ehsani's books a try!)

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Zen Cho / Fantasy fiction / Books from Malaysia


  1. I like the magical elements in this. It sounds good.

    1. This would be a great choice for fantasy adventure fans :-)

  2. I don't think this is one for me but I am glad you were able to enjoy it so much. Weird that it had some kind of modern feels to it even though you couldn't quite pinpoint what it was!

    1. I thought The True Queen was strong for its fantasy elements and overall it's a fun read :-)