Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Queen of Tomorrow (Stolen Empire #2) by Sherry Ficklin Review

Hey readers, Ethan here with a review that's sure to light up your Summer TBR! The second installment in what is, quite possibly, my all-time favorite YA historic fiction series, Stolen Empire. What am I raving about today? Queen of Tomorrow by the amazing Sherry D. Ficklin. Let's learn a bit about the novel and our author before we get to my thoughts:

Sophie—now Catherine, Grand Duchess of Russia—had a tough first year at Imperial Court. Married at sixteen to Grand Duke Peter, heir to the throne, and settled in their own palace, things are finally looking up. As a new day dawns, she thinks only of securing her future, and the future of their country, during one of the greatest political upheavals of her time. Fighting desperately against forces trying to depose the Empress Elizabeth and put the young Prince Ivan on her throne, Sophie soon finds herself in the middle of a war brewing between her beloved Prussia, and her new empire. But even as she navigates the fragile political landscape, she quickly realizes that she has only begun to discover the tangled web of deceit and infidelity woven over the lavish court of Oranienbaum Palace.

When a strange and delicate alliance forms between the young couple, she glimpses a future of happiness, only to see it lost in a moment at the hands of those who still seek to end her life—and prevent her reign. Out of favor with the empress and running out of options, Sophie will have to sacrifice her own innocence on the altar of Russia if she is to save the nation, and herself. To survive, she will have to do the unthinkable, betray those closest to her and become something greater and more dangerous than she ever imagined she could be… a queen.

Sherry D. Ficklin
Sherry D. Ficklin is a full time writer from Colorado where she lives with her husband, four kids, two dogs, and a fluctuating number of chickens and house guests. A former military brat, she loves to travel and meet new people. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she’s on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs.

Find Sherry F. Ficklin


My Thoughts:

You guys may remember earlier this year when I devoured and raved all about Queen of Someday, book one in this series. As several of you guys will remember, I am a huge history buff. Russian history and culture has always been interesting to me so as soon as I heard of this series, I knew I'd fall in love. I was right. Immediately after reading book one, I realized this series was truly something special. I couldn't say enough great things about it. Not know exactly what Ficklin had planned for book two, I'll admit I was a little nervous, there was a lot of ground to cover. I'll tell you what folks, Ficklin definitely did a очень хорошо job on this novel! Ah-maz-ing! (That's a 'very good' job for my non-Russian speakers out there.) 

Oh wow guys. The plot for Tomorrow is one emotional roller coaster ride. Twists, turns, unease, heartache, and heartbreak follow our cast of characters as Sophie continues to rise to the occasion, growing from poor German-born Sophie to Empress Catherine the Great. The story sure isn't without its' hiccups, but Sophie, now Catherine blossoms from the ashes and become the heart of Russia. Outshining even the brightest stars in power. It isn't easy to craft these characters, but it's even hard to watch them endure the hardships they do. Ficklin does note that this novel is not suited for young readers, and she is very right in saying this. Forced sex, physical abuse, and harsh language will follow Catherine on her journey to win the heart of Russia. It certainly isn't an easy ascent up the mountain.

Ficklin does an absolutely amazing job with the characters in this novel. Anyone who remembers book one will remember the huge cast of characters involved. Thankfully in book two, Ficklin doesn't throw many more at us, but rather dives deeper into the psyche of the ones she previously crafted. Not only do we see the crucial development of Sophie to Catherine, we see amazing strides in the characters of Empress Elizabeth, Sergei, Peter, and others. Like I said before guys, it's non-stop emotion and tension. Expect the absolute unexpected because nothing is as it seems!

Set in eighteenth century Russia, Ficklin pulls out all the stops. From palace to the forests of Russia, each setting is beautifully crafted with just the right amount of description to set the tone of the novel. I was very clearly able to close my eyes and imagine myself in the palace of the Empress Elizabeth, right alongside Sophie and the gang. Everything from Russian architecture to food was described in such a fantastic way as to leave the reader more than impressed. 

I can honestly say that I am in absolute awe of Sherry Ficklin. Never before in my bookish history have I seen an author go to such lengths for a story. The research Ficklin has done on every facet of Russian history and culture is sure to please even the harshest of critics. It is noted in the novel multiple times that this is a historic fiction and that Ficklin has taken some liberties in interpreting the tale. In all honesty, I believe that Ficklin's tale is probably closer to the truth than the history books have led us to believe, plus they give these historical figures a story for an entirely new generation of learners. Save a spot on your bookshelf of favorite, Ficklin has more than earned that empty space! 

This novel deals with some strong adult themes including rape, domestic violence, torture, murder, adultery, underage drinking (by our standards), and more. If any of these things offends you, please take caution that this may not be the series for you. For those of you who are able to embrace these elements as truth, you will be greatly rewarded by this gripping tale Ficklin has crafted. The lessons learned by Sophie in this series are reflective on our own lives in the 21st century, we can all learn a lot about life from Mrs. Catherine the Great.  

There is only one more novel left in the Stolen Empire series, Queen of Always and it just so happens I had the great pleasure of beta reading it for Sherry Ficklin earlier this month. Guys, if the final installment ends up being anything close to what I read, we may have a contender for all-time favorite series on our hands. I'm not kidding when I give this series such high praise. Written with the greatest eloquence, sophistication, and flair, Sherry D. Ficklin has truly delivered a literary masterpiece of our time. 

Writing this review has really made me fall in love with this novel all over again. Queen of Tomorrow really is beyond special to me in every facet. As a history scholar, as a reader, as a human being. It spoke to me. Sherry Ficklin is a national treasure. To write such beautiful words in such a well-crafted story is amazing beyond any words I could possibly write here. Here's to you Queen Sherry Ficklin, well done ma'am. Well done. It is for these reasons, and many, many more, that I am granting Queen of Tomorrow by Sherry D. Ficklin a near-perfect 5+-star review. You'll be seeing much more about this series for me in the future. Don't worry folks, it only gets better from here!


Click the cover below to see my 5-star review of 
Queen of Someday (Book #1 in the Stolen Empire trilogy)

Alright folks, that's all I have for you on the topic of Queen of Tomorrow by Sherry D. Ficklin. As you guys can clearly see, I am absolutely enamored with this entire series. It's almost perfection. I highly recommend it to any and all readers mature-YA aged and up. Don't miss this incredible read. Until next time, Happy Reading!


1 comment:

  1. I saw Queen of Someday when it came out... and then completely forgot that i wanted to read it! But look at that beautiful cover. Who could not want to read such a gorgeous book? It sounds so interesting, and it seems like the sequel worked out pretty well for you as well. Looking forward to trying it.