I’ve been putting off writing this review. It’s not just that THE SCARECROW QUEEN was the perfect end to the trilogy, or that it was expertly paced and plotted, or that everything I wanted to happen came to pass and more, or that I devoured it in that obsessive, every-spare-moment way I reserve just for the very special books; it’s also that this is goodbye… and, as with all hard goodbyes, I’m not sure I’m not going to be able to say all the things I should.
THE SCARECROW QUEEN picks up almost exactly where the last book left off, but with a twist – we are now seeing the story through the eyes of Twylla once again. She is adrift in a war-torn kingdom looking for a way to bring together a disparate band of survivors with the aim of wresting back power from the terrible Aurek. But this book, in a gorgeous piece of narrative symmetry, is also told through the eyes of Errin, meaning we are also seeing events from inside the court of the deadly new king, within which Errin is a helpless hostage, controlled absolutely and completely through the use of a blood-bonded poppet. Our fearless heroines are separated, but both are set on rebellion.
So, even if I just stick to the highlights of what I love this is going to be a LONG list: the visceral fear I felt on Twylla’s journey, the terrifying and at the same time sexy (is that just me?) power of Aurek, the arresting beauty of the descriptions of places and people, the pace, the smart plotting, Leif’s arc (shoot me if that’s a spoiler), the imagery of the golems and poppets, the perfect precision of the meaning behind the title, the multi-faceted mythology that ripples out from every page, the nuanced relationships between characters, the tender mortality and strength of the heroines, the many moral messages that resonate beyond the borders of Lormere, the unnerving yet exhilarating uncertainty I felt about how this was all going to end. This book is going to be a tough act to follow, which explains why I have recently found it harder to fall in love with the books I am reading. I’m still on the rebound.
What a book. What a trilogy. I’m not usually a fantasy fan but I’ve a feeling that is all about to change. If there are others out there as smart and original and utterly arresting as this – count me in.