Queen (Hidden Earth #1) – J.S. Fields

I’m never going to look at rabbits the same way. Nor beetles but I don’t look at beetles much, I’m squeamish that way.

I love Fields’ Ardulum books but I’m not going to lie, I didn’t enjoy Foxfire in the Snow as much, and I was hoping I’d love this other non-Ardulum book, especially as it’s the first in a new series. The good news is that yes, I did. A whole lot.

Queen has everything I’ve come to expect from this author. It’s smart, it’s complex, it’s hilarious, unhinged, emotional. I didn’t expect beetle-riding rabbits, however.

Queen is the name of the planetoid Ember and her formerly-younger now-older sister Nadia moved to when humans had to leave Earth after it failed. The only planet that would take Ember, an intersex botanist, “Queen was an all-women planet, by Old Earth definition, where woman meant you had a vulva. The end. Like a turn of the nineteenth-century white feminist utopia book.” Years later, Ember is mourning her wife Taraniel’s death when she finds out in a pretty dramatic manner that before she died, Taraniel had made plans for Ember, impossible and dangerous plans with the colony defectors Ember has been taught to hate.

The story is told from Ember’s point of view and from Nadia’s, who left her husband and parents to be with her and will never stop fighting for her. As far as I can remember, this is the first time I read about an intersex character, and I’m glad it’s by an author who knows what they’re talking about. I also love that it’s very important to who Ember is yet not what the story is about. It has consequences on the story, it isn’t the story.

While romance isn’t at the forefront, there’s one brewing, an enemy-to-lovers / only-one-ship arc I want a lot more of. I’m very impatient to read more about Ember and Nadia, as well as their colleague Varun, a trans man, and pirates Asher, Nok, Pui and Kate. As this is the first book in a series, it ends on some sort of cliffhanger that only makes me crave more. And yes, I’ve used the word “more” a lot in this paragraph, which should give you an idea of how much I loved this story and these people.

This is the kind of book about which I’d have a lot more to say but won’t, as getting into details would risk robbing readers of some of the pleasure. The worldbuilding, the complexity and diversity of the characters, the twists… It all has to be experienced in itself.

5-stars

Queen @ amazon

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