cover image The Vanished Queen

The Vanished Queen

Lisbeth Campbell. Saga, $27.99 (496p) ISBN 978-1-982141-29-5

Campbell skillfully balances action and introspection as rebellion rises against an oppressive regime in this promising epic fantasy debut. The city of Karegg is under the control of the brutal King Karolje. When college student Anza breaks into one of the libraries that Karolje has ordered closed, she discovers the journal of Mirantha, the former queen who Karolje had disappeared. After Anza’s father is executed for unknown reasons, Anza joins the resistance movement against Karolje, inspired, in part, by reading Mirantha’s tale. Anza is arrested for her involvement with the movement and interrogated by Esvar, one of Karolje’s sons, who, along with his brother, Tevin, plots to overthrow his father, but fears a lack of support among the nobility. Anza is released, and she, Esvar, and Sparrow, the mysterious leader of the resistance, come together to put an end to Karolje’s tyranny. By situating Anza within a larger resistance movement, Campbell steers refreshingly clear of typical “chosen one” tropes, instead illuminating the collective effort required for revolution while drawing pointed parallels to the current U.S. political climate. This competent, character-driven debut may not be splashy, but it is solid. Agent: Bridget Smith, Dunham Literary. (Aug.)