... tackles misogyny, colonialism, racism, and classism head on ... It’s not often fantasy fiction gives readers that kind of nuance with people of color, where the author demonstrates the harsh reality of the different levels of privilege afforded to people from similar spheres ... Women sacrificing themselves for the greater good is old territory in fiction, but yet again Cho pushes past the tropes to something unexpected. She calls them out on their self-sacrificial behavior ... Written with wit, charm, and heart, this is the perfect follow-up to a perfect debut novel. Although this go-round feels a little less like Jane Austen and a little more like Susanna Clarke, it’s still beautiful in every way. Filled with exciting adventures, death-defying feats, unshakable bonds, and simmering romance, The True Queen delights from every angle. The wait for this novel was long, but oh so worth it.
Makes smart use of the world that Sorcerer introduced; it isn't necessary to read Sorcerer to follow the state of English magic, and The True Queen's shift in perspective offers more than just Easter eggs to the returning reader. Prunella's confident carelessness, which the first book tended to blithely skim over, takes on a sharper edge through Muna's eyes ... Cho occasionally pulls back from the full impact of the magical stakes, which can rob some of the grander moments of gravitas. However, the novel's heart is less concerned with bloodthirsty fairy contracts than it is in young ladies creating magical simulacrums just to get out of paying polite visits, and what that means for the family reputation ... While it can feel as if the full promise of family complications is swallowed by more pressing plot concerns, there are still plenty of enjoyable set pieces, and reading the clever deployment of weaponized manners never gets old; in Cho's charming prose, The True Queen weaves a very pleasant spell indeed.
In many ways it is more of a standalone novel than true sequel ... the novel gives incoming readers a smooth introduction to Cho’s complex and exciting creation. But be careful—once you’ve experienced Cho’s vision of the past, you will never want to leave. ... Purposefully or not, much of historical fiction and fantasy tends to show a whitewashed view of European history. In both Sorcerer to the Crown and The True Queen, Zen Cho reminds us that Britain was far from homogenous. And while Cho never strays into direct discussions of imperialism (at its core, The True Queen is a fairly light book), it is a constant presence ... a book worth reading for lovers of historical fantasy and thoughtful historical fiction alike.
Cho continues to confront class and gender roles in an alternate Regency England while showcasing entertaining prose and characters. A delightful historical-fantasy novel that will capture readers in its layered story line.
... [an] enjoyable but somewhat less acerbic sequel ... The social and political satire involving race, gender, and colonialism that gave such a sharp and surprising edge to Sorcerer to the Crown is mostly relegated to the background here ... Even though I suspect many readers will suss out some key secrets long before the characters do, The True Queen is a lot of fun, ingeniously and carefully plotted, with some engaging and moving examples of the value of friendship and the moral dilemmas of power. It may be a more conventional fantasy than Sorcerer to the Crown, but it handles its conventional elements with flashes of brilliance, and it shares with that novel some telling reminders of the importance of the voice of the outsider.
The title offers perhaps too strong a clue as to the real source of the Queen’s anger as well as the nature of Sakti and Muna’s predicament, but watching the strands of the plot converge and the details play out still offers some surprises and wonderful set pieces. There’s even a sweet dash of romance at the end. As in her previous novel, Cho offers plenty of sharp commentary on the misogyny and colonialism of this magical version of Regency England, in which spells are thrilling and exotic when performed by a witch from the Far East but scandalous when cast by an Englishwoman ... Perhaps not as groundbreaking as the debut but a solid follow-up, nonetheless.