Queen of Ruin is the sequel to Grace and Fury, by Tracy Banghart. Queen of Ruin is a powerful story about female empowerment and finding your voice. Serina and Nomi both had to reinvent themselves throughout the series but more so in Queen of Ruin when they were faced with obstacles that threatened to tear them apart forever.
Queen of Ruin starts right where Grace and Fury left off with Serina and the women on Mount Ruin having led a successful revolt and overpowered the guards and Nomi on a boat with Maris and Malachi headed to Mount Ruin. The sisters are reunited and learn what the other has been through to since they were separated. Malachi needs to get back to the palace so that he can gain his rightful place back from his brother. The story progresses from there with Nomi and Serina having to go their separate ways, this time by choice. Nomi needs to go back to Viridia to find her brother and parents. Malachi goes back with her so that he can gather up an army to oppose his younger brother, Asa. Serina needs to make sure the women of Mount Ruin get to Azura safely. Both Serina and Nomi have to deal with obstacles and challenges while fighting for their rights as women in Viridia.
Serina grew so much from the first book to this one. She was submissive and polite in Grace and Fury when she was sent to Mount Ruin for reading a book. The world of Viridia has put women down for centuries because they feared what giving women power could lead to based on a history they’ve suppressed. Women were not allowed to be educated, any wages they made were given to their husband, and they were basically property of those husbands. The highest honor for a woman was being a Grace which was just a courtesan to the superior (one of many wives). That was what Serina was raised to be and she did so with no thought to what could be better but being sent to Mount Ruin and being around a lot of other women who had been sent there for minor to major infractions and forced to fight just to survive, she realized that the way she’d been taught all her life wasn’t the right way. She became a leader to those women and formed a strong sisterhood with all of them. I loved seeing Serina grow into a warrior and a fierce, strong woman who even when scared, did what she had to do to protect the ones she loved and cared for. She went from being one of my least favorite characters to one of my all-time favorite characters by the time the series concluded.
Nomi was the rebellious sister that realized it wasn’t fair that she did not have the same rights and opportunities as her twin brother. She hated being a Grace and hated that her sister had been sent away for something that she’d done. She was always fighting to get what she thought she deserved. Sometimes it made her reckless and blind to obvious things but her heart was always in the right place. I felt like Nomi grew as well throughout the series and especially in Queen of Ruin. Her ordeals and the losses and the betrayal she had to deal with made her stronger but also made her more cautions and made her think more before she acted. She was always willing to do what she had to do to protect the ones she loved.
The love interests of the sisters, Val and Malachi, were good characters as well. I loved how Val never tried to undermine Serina. He let her be a leader and supported her in everything she did. He was a guard on Mount Ruin and was the only one who wasn’t killed or imprisoned. He could have tried to force Serina to do things the way he thought they should be done but he seemed to understand that was not what Serina needed. She needed him to be supportive and that’s what he did. Malachi was a bit different but he still never tried stifle Nomi. He was understandably upset with her for helping Asa betray him and take his throne but he eventually got over that. Their relationship was more of a slow-burn one that they didn’t explore until after everything had happened.
I enjoyed Queen of Ruin immensely because of the strong female relationships, the storyline and the amazing world. This book dealt with issues that we have today and made them work in the context of the world the author created. Queen of Ruin was a powerful and entertaining read that kept me engaged until I turned the last page!
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Synopsis | Goodreads
A fierce sequel full of sisterhood, heart pounding action, betrayal, and intrigue in the royal court in a series that “breathes new life into the feminist story of oppression and resistance” (Publisher’s Weekly).
Banished by Asa at the end of Grace and Fury, Nomi and Malachi find themselves powerless and headed towards their all-but-certain deaths. Now that Asa sits on the throne, he will stop at nothing to make sure Malachi never sets foot in the palace again. Their only hope is to find Nomi’s sister, Serina, on the prison island of Mount Ruin. But when Nomi and Malachi arrive, it is not the island of conquered, broken women that they expected. It is an island in the grip of revolution, and Serina–polite, submissive Serina–is its leader.
Betrayal, grief, and violence have changed both sisters, and the women of Mount Ruin have their sights set on revenge beyond the confines of their island prison. They plan to sweep across the entire kingdom, issuing in a new age of freedom for all. But first they’ll have to get rid of Asa, and only Nomi knows how.
Separated once again, this time by choice, Nomi and Serina must forge their own paths as they aim to tear down the world they know, and build something better in its place.
The stakes are higher and the battles bolder in Tracy Banghart’s unputdownable sequel to Grace and Fury.