Hi everyone and welcome to my tour stop for Contest of Queens by Jordan H. Bartlett hosted through TBR and Beyond Tours. I’m excited to share my full spoiler-free review as part of my stop.
You can check out the full schedule for the tour here.
About the BookContest of Queens by Jordan H. Bartlett
Published by CamCat Books on January 18, 2022
When an unsettling event occurs in the Queendom of Frea, Jacs, an inventor's apprentice from the Lower Realm, participates in the Contest of Queens to prove that a Queendom is strongest when united.
In a Queendom divided, can one girl unite the realms?
Jacs, an inventor's apprentice from the Lower Realm, has only ever dreamed of what the land among the clouds holds. That is until she finds a letter from Connor, an Upperite boy who sends a wooden boat into the abyss, hoping to learn more about the land below. Little does Jacs know, Connor is actually Prince Cornelius of the Queendom of Frea. With wooden boats and hot air balloons, the two begin a secret correspondence that lasts years. But their friendship is divided by a heavily-guarded bridge and an inescapable prejudice.
The strength of their bond was thought to transcend distance and time, but when the royal family visits Jacs' town of Bridgeport, the illusion of peace between the Realms dissolves, and the old feud is reignited.
Now, to save her people, Jacs must infiltrate the Upper Realm and earn her place to compete in the Contest of Queens. She must learn how to survive against the contests' grueling tasks and within a political web she could not have imagined. In a story about friendship, love, bravery, and defying gravity, Jacs will strive to prove that a Queendom is strongest when united.
About the Author
Jordan H. Bartlett is a New Zealand-born, Canadian Citizen with a love for children’s literature and female empowerment. She grew up reading books about boys for boys and found it hard to find a strong female heroine she could relate to. Bartlett wrote Contest of Queens to give young readers that character she so longed for in a world where gender norms are reversed. Bartlett currently resides in Banff, Alberta where she works as a Speech Language Pathologist and is a certified yoga instructor.
Contest of Queens is a ya fantasy novel that rests firmly with the parameters of my reading wheelhouse. Amid love of cults and my affinity for survival stories is an intense adoration for contests, magical or otherwise.
The book is told from alternating perspectives. First there is Connor who lives in the upper kingdom and is the only son to the queen and her husband. At the novel’s opening, Connor sends a homemade boat down to the lower kingdom. The recipient of young Connor’s letter is Jax, a girl who dreams of more than the life she was born into and societal expectations would grant her.
When Connor’s mother is assassinated it sets into motion a series of events that leads to a contest which will decide the queen of the queendom. This feminist retelling of so many YA fantasy tropes has a lot to promote itself. A loveable band of misfits characters consisting of a diverse cast of characters battle it out but stick together in a tournament meant to turn them against each other.
There is also a sweet romance that plays out largely in an epistolary format as Jax and Connor get to know each other. I appreciated their growing relationship but I’m also glad it wasn’t the focus of the story.
The contests themselves were interesting and unique and while I found the outcomes of the challenges predictable and the end of the book a bit rushed, I still enjoyed it.
Overall I gave Contest of Queens 4🌟 and would recommend a to anyone who loves a book about a tournament or is aching for a ya fantasy with a strong female lead and sparing on the romance.
What About You?
Have you read Contest of Queens? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!