The Lizard Queen: Book One: This Shrinking World
BY H L CHERRYHOMES
Reviewed on behalf of The Review Board by Harmony Kent.
I received a free PDF copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review.
Amy is a nearly-forty-year-old, recently divorced CEO looking for a quick weekend break. What with impossibly-orange lizards running through her office, and a mysterious golden bangle turning up out of nowhere, not to mention her waking up beneath a starless yet clear night sky after going out for a morning jog, a quiet weekend looks set to be the last thing that our heroine gets. And then she meets the funny-coloured natives with strange stripes on their skin, who speak a language a bit like Spanish but not quite, and who are convinced that Amy is Lacáruna—prophesied to arrive in their world three hundred years ago to help it expand again. While the camp she wakes in is friendly and welcoming, not everyone in that world wants Lacáruna, and soon, Amy—along with three companions—has to go into hiding.
This is the first book in a series, and is most definitely not a standalone novel. The world building is fantastic, and everything you could want in a fantasy story. However, that’s just about all you get in this first volume. It’s a start. It doesn’t give you a middle bit or an ending. The character building is strong, mostly; but the tale lacks an antagonist to balance the protagonists. The plot becomes bogged down in all that glorious detail, and once Amy and Co leave the camp, is filled with what they eat, where they travel, and how they bathe. The heroine seems to have a huge hang up about seeing the natives naked, or being seen naked herself, and it comes across as a tad more than the normal levels of discomfort we might be expected to feel if in similar circumstances. The reasons behind this strong reaction are never explained. Just when the plot gets going, it stops. The book finishes. With a lot more questions than when it started. Loose threads abound so much that it’s all in danger of unravelling before your eyes. For some reason, the plot seems to be …
Not one plot point reaches resolution by the time you turn the last page. The whole book has been given over to world building, with some character building in there, but the plot pacing makes a snail look good. Add to this the passive writing style, the many small yet significant errors, the repetitive nature of the narrative (in many instances, telling what has just been shown), this makes for a frustrating read. It started out strong—real strong—a good contender for high marks, in fact, but then it fizzled out. It just didn’t go anywhere.
The point of view is third person limited, and the author does a good job of maintaining this without any head-hopping, which gets a thumbs up-from me. However, more than a few times, native words are used that our displaced heroine doesn’t yet know. She won’t know them until the latter half of the book, and yet here they appear.
For this to work as a first book in the series, more than mere set up is required. The reader is apt to feel cheated after reading the last word. The story includes a hint of romance, and a hint of a deeper mystery—but hints are all the reader gets. It’s not enough.
For imagination and descriptive agility, it gets high marks, which is let down with passive writing, punctuation and spelling errors (including missing words), and a lack of plot and pacing. Such a shame, as I fell in love with this book in the first pages. Then I fell out of love so badly it soon came time for a divorce. As it stands, it gets 6 out of 10 TRB stars from me, which equates to 3 out of 5 stars on other rating scales.