Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!
Remember last year during #WyrdAndWonder, I read this delishly spunky Fantasy Romance I truly felt entertained by & lovingly had a wicked sweet time reviewing? The title of this beaut of a novel was “To Court A Queen” and it hit every mark I could have hoped for in a Fantasy Romance novel! I was dearly impressed, awestruck by the world-building and rounded out my review layering in all the lovelies we, who read Fantasy, love finding in our fantastical worlds! It was full of intrigue, a slow burn romance and the kind of cheeky humour which leaves me in stitches!!
You might have already recognised through my bookish showcases & reviews for the first two years of #WyrdAndWonder – I’m quite the discerningly particular reader of Fantasy Fiction! I *love!* certain kinds of world-building and there is a definitive style of Fantasy narrative I am seeking that I do not always find available when I go hunting for a new author | series | story to read. Hence why discovering Ms Burke through #ReviewPit was such a cornerstone of joy during #WyrdAndWonder! She truly has honed in on what we want to seek out, what Fantasy readers can appreciate about spinning a world out of our hopeful imaginations & give us a wicked good read in the process!
A Fairy Tale Romance
He doesn’t want to get married, but he wants to be a frog even less.
Knight errant, Devin, takes a shortcut through the woods, only to be captured by fairy forces. The fairy queen has run out of breathing males to fight for her hand, and Devin, while not ideal fairy stock, is breathing–for now.
Telling a vain fairy queen you’d rather not be her one true love is a ticket to life on a lilypad, so the knight agrees to face three challenges to win Queen Agalea’s hand. When a clever servant girl offers to help him navigate the trials in order to stop the constant bloodshed of the courtship ritual, Devin jumps at the chance. However, as he balances “flirting” with his “beloved” and overcoming tasks specifically designed to kill him, he finds his heart drawn to his new partner in survival.
This novel & author were also a part of
If you’ve missed my previous ruminations about “To Court A Queen” let me share this ahead of #SatBookChat this Saturday morning:
I truly found this #IndieAuthor to be #unputdownable because Burke understands what I personally *love!* to seek out of a Fantasy Romance! Not just that – it is how she layered you into the world-building, gave you two characters who despite being individually quirky worked well together as a team – whilst having this set in an unsuspecting place which was wondrously created by Burke’s eye for fantastical detail.
I will be looking forward to collecting more of her stories & taking new journeys into where her imagination leads me to follow!
In regards to the world being built within this world of the fey:
Uniquely, there is a running shortage of approachable and available men who are willing to do the Queen’s bidding – by taking a stake of claim towards her consort position and find a way not to get killed in the process! Whilst she’s holding court, you can see the different kinds of fey who are represented – by their style of dress, their hair colour and the ways in which they dress, braid their hair and otherwise present themselves.
Winged hounds were a new creature for me to experience! I love when that happens – as it is such a special treat to come across a new fantastical species or creature you haven’t yet had the joy in becoming acquainted previously!
The background texture of the story is lush and vibrant; from the way the rooms are outfitted to the design of the aesthetic for the Queen’s residence hall(s). There is a lot of attention to the finer details here and I loved tucking close to the descriptive details.
on the fantastical musings of speculative novelist h.l. burke:
In the author’s own words she’s declared the following about “To Court A Queen”: Enjoy a Fairy Tale Romance that’s like “The Princess Bride” combined with “Ella Enchanted” plus a LOT of snark, a cat-elf, & a knight who is way too Han Solo for his own good!
And, here are my thoughts about how to best describe her fantastically humourous writing style which brokers on the edge of satire and envelopes itself into a bit of snark round the edges!
One of the descriptive attributes Burke wrote into her story is where Devin compares himself to a moth to the distaste of the Queen as she sees his humanness to be a detriment but not to the extent she will remove him from her Court or from testing him as potential consort to her throne! There are a lot of tongue-in-check exchanges with a pulse of satire threading through the dialogue – something I was looking forward to each step of the way because Burke’s characters have a light-heartedness about them. They believe strongly in their lives and the causes they wish to champion but at the same time there is a threading of nonchalance and full-on sarcasm which isn’t lost on me.
I had a feeling the comedic timing to the discussions is partially to cover over the fact the Queen has a decidedly different end game for those who fail her miserably! I know the evil side of the fey as you don’t have to look too hard to uncover that side of their nature – whilst there are a few who walk in the Light, most of the fey side with the Dark. Even if it is under the benign covering of seeking a mate who’d be in equal status of the Queen, you had to think there was something quite nefarious happening at the same time. Why would a Queen simply agree to ‘any odd male’? That you had to wonder about the most whilst you continued to watch Devin grow deeper into this quagmire he caused for himself!
I even liked how she created this species of elves (ie. thus known as ‘cat-elves’ by Devin who likes to get a rile of ire out of them!) who are less than gracious about being referred to as ‘cat-elves’ as I suppose from their perspective that might not be a very endearing name to be called? It was still clever though because it added another layer to this world wherein she’s built a whole society of fey and fairy – where Sevaine represents another part of this kingdom and where the Queen represents the other half. Uniquely there are also loop holes of how those who are ingenious enough can outwit the Queen – though, I had suspected that might be a false-safety on their part as after awhile wouldn’t she wise up to their plottings?
Want to know something keenly ironic? I didn’t really feel this was a snarky story! In fact, I saw it more laden with satire and wicked brilliant humour than I did the snark? There are just some Speculative Fiction novelists out there who are writing stories which work well with my own sense of humour apparently – I now consider H.L. Burke, Leanne Leeds (from #ReviewPit alum) joining the ranks of Ms Chris (E. Chris Garrison), AshleyRose Sullivan, RJ Sullivan and Jennifer Silverwood in my admiration society for comedic and dramatic Fantasy which happily makes me blissfully happy to reside inside!
-a quote from my review of To Court A Queen
As I was setting up the conversation for #SatBookChat today, I wanted to give a well-rounded introduction to the collective worlds & storycrafting style of Ms Burke similar in vein to how I encaptured the stories & series of Vivian Conroy during her initial chat with @SatBookChat!
Ms Burke doesn’t limit herself to Fantasy Romance – she likes to carve out a niche of Fantasy which does strike a romantic balance within her story-lines but overall, she’s a multi-focused Fantasy novelist who is crafting worlds of wonderment which also parlay into such niches of focus to treat your readerly delights like flavourings of Steampunk, Historical Theatre Sci-Fantasy, Sorcery & Magic and of course, short stories which spark your curiosity to seek out her larger works! There is a bit of fey and a dash of whimsical – you only have to visit her website & blog to seek out the ‘right read’ for your Speculative heart to enjoy discovering!
I hope you’ve brewed a cuppa to enjoy the information on this spotlighted post in conjunction with @SatBookChat whilst taking time to visit our past chats archived via the Moments on the chat’s feeds via Twitter. This chat will be archived after it concludes and a bit lateron from there to allow everyone the chance to interact, share and respond.
Without further adieu,
I give you the latest #SatBookChat spotlight
wherein you can learn a bit more about the author & her story.
Cross-released across ALL platforms: print, ebook & audio!
The synopsis for the Spellsmith & Carver series:
Academy trained Auric Spellsmith and small town apprentice Jericho Carver couldn’t be more different, but that doesn’t stop them from wanting the same thing.
When Auric left his rural home and his father’s magic shop to study with the great magicians of the republic, he never expected to be replaced, let alone by the barely educated nephew of the local carpenter. Returning home to find his rightful inheritance in jeopardy—and his beloved baby sister flirting with his new rival—Auric knows he has to prove to his father that he’s the better magician—and the better man.
Jericho scratched his way out of poverty and abuse, and he’s not going to let some bookish city boy send him running back to his boards and hammers. With his future, and his ability to court the woman of his dreams, at stake, he’s ready to play dirty … or at least sit back and let the impulsive and temperamental Auric set himself on fire trying to do basic magic Jericho could do with his eyes closed.
Their rivalry might burn Spellsmith Manor down around them … or it might prove the key to unlocking a long held family secret and saving a world that doesn’t even realize it’s in danger.
A three book gaslamp fantasy series with friendship, humor, and adventure, Spellsmith & Carver takes the Buddy Comedy to magical new heights.This collection includes all three books of the series plus two additional short stories.