After what felt like a slow start in the first few chapters, I had a great time reading The Peasant Queen by Cheri Chesley.
Take a beautiful, intelligent girl from a farm in the middle of nowhere, add a far off kingdom at war with its neighbor and you’ve got the basic plot of a dozen fantasy novels. That said, The Peasant Queen is a romantic fantasy that can definitely hold its own among the most popular of those YA titles.
Krystal is a farm girl whose family has betrothed her to someone who is in no way her equal. In a desperate attempt to figure out how to get out of the marriage she considers running away. But the tables are turned slightly when she’s kidnapped instead. She’s not really sure why she’s there or what will be come of her. The reader isn’t sure either, but the whole attitude with which Krystal faces this unexpected challenge made the whole book for me.
Despite the nature of her arrival in the new kingdom, Krystal is anything but a victim of circumstance. She is a heroine extraordinaire and the kind of girl I’d want my own girls to learn a thing or two from. She’s strong, capable and determined. There’s no damsel in distress in this story and I loved that about it.
Did I have any issues? Eh- I’m one of those that take issue with having a heroine that every male character alive seems to fall in love with. Cheri did a good job of weaving it together in a believable scenario, but I would have been more comfortable if the bad guy’s motivations were more clearly self-love and wanting what he couldn’t have rather than showing actual *love* for her. Yes, it made him more human and all that good writerly stuff, my skeptical mind just didn’t want to buy into it. Sigh.
I’d highly recommend handing The Peasant Queen off to a tween or teen girl in your life. For the good story, but more importantly, for the positive messages about what it can mean to be a woman of strength come what may.