Nameless Queen by Rebecca McLaughlin

Nameless Queen by Rebecca McLaughlin. Crown, 9781524700263, 2020

Format: Hardcover, 340 pages

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre:  Fantasy Fiction

What did you like about the book? Born with no name, Coin is one of the nameless who are ever present in the city.  Born to squalor, raised to steal, she knows only hunger and that trusting others can be dangerous.  The Nameless have no rights, no property, and are treated as if they are a blight on the city by both Royal and Legal classes.  When Coin wakes up with a crown tattoo, indicating she is next in line to rule, no one can believe that a Nameless is destined to be the ruler of the kingdom.  Not knowing whom to trust, she is helped by a new ability to sense people’s auras, moods, and learn their past.  She discovers abilities that only the owner of the crown can wield, such as creating illusions that have power over all of the classes except the Nameless.  With all of these gifts it is still uncertain whether she can rule, and whether the Royal class will let her.  How could the king speak her name when she does not have one?  Answers come as the plot unfolds and keeps readers turning pages.  Despite the fact that stories of the down-trodden becoming royalty are as old as time, McLaughlin is able to create an original narrative.  Twists and turns are sure to keep readers engaged and the similarities between the Nameless and other classes without a voice throughout history, is clear.  The antagonist is sufficiently cruel to add depth to the plot and works well to offset our heroine, Coin.  The fictional setting is well laid out and believable, though not described in minute detail.

Anything you didn’t like about it? The villain is not well drawn out and slightly two dimensional.  Coin’s confidant, Glenquarts, is not easily believable as he seems to be on Coin’s side from the start, without knowing her.  Some of the mapping of the city is not explained thoroughly, for example Coin gives a speech and within moments is trying to extinguish houses on fire.

To whom would you recommend this book? Readers in grades 4 and up who enjoy adventure with the underdog coming out on top and special powers will enjoy this tale.   

Who should buy this book? This would be a good purchase for intermediate schools or public libraries that cannot get enough adventure stories with kingdoms and super powers.  

Where would you shelve it? Fantasy Fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  I feel that this title would reside near the top of the “to read” pile.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Elena Schuck, Nathaniel H. Wixon School Library, Dennis, Massachusetts

Date of review: September 30, 2020

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