God Save the Queen Kate Locke
I saw this book at ALA (how could that cover not garner a closer look?) but the rep said they didn't have ARCs. Ah well. It was pubbing shortly after ALA, so I could buy it or get it from the library then. BUT! There was a sign next to the book saying that the author was going to part of a panel on YA/Adult crossover titles. Interesting... why hadn't I heard of this panel? Because it wasn't a YALSA panel. It was hosted by ALTAFF. Have you ever heard of ALTAFF? They're the Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations. In other words, our support. I will definitely be checking out their offerings at future conferences, because this panel was great-- adult authors with high teen appeal, YA authors that adults love and great ideas and conversations. And then afterwards they gave out a copy of a book from EVERY author and had a signing. I didn't take all the books but I was very happy that God Save the Queen was on offer.
I read it on the plane ride home. It's an adult title with very high teen appeal (I field-nominated it for an Alex Award.)
It's an alternate history steampunk paranormal action mystery romance.
Basically, there was a mutation of the plague that affected aristocratic blood (blue blood has a whole new meaning here!) that makes the upper class undead. Whether they're vampires or werewolves tends to be determined by geography. So, it's 2012, and Queen Victoria is still on the throne and ruling the empire. And, like Victorian times in our world, this is a very class-divided society. Aristos rule, humans aren't worth noticing and inbetween are the halvies-- the offspring of aristos and humans. They're not undead, but they have special abilities. They're mostly used as guards to protect the aristos from human uprisings and rebellions, like the one that killed Prince Albert many years ago. Below everyone are the goblins, who will eat anyone and anything. Goblins are aristos, but the mutation went horribly wrong.
Xandra is a halvie, and a member of the elite Royal Guard who lives with her siblings (different mothers, same aristo father). She's very close to them, especially to her troubled sister Dede, who has disappeared. But then a body turns out that the authorities say is Dede's. Someone's gone through a LOT of trouble to make it look like Dede, but Xandra knows it's not. When she tracks down Dede, she finds herself in Bedlam hospital (literally) and in the middle of a movement to bring down the artistos. She's also going to discover some horrifying truths about what makes the empire tick and the truth of being a halvie.
Her investigation takes her down the sewers to see the Goblins and into the arms of Vex MacLaughlin, alpha of all UK weres (who tend to be Scottish.) Of course, Xandra's relationship with Vex doesn't sit well with her teacher, mentor, and friend, the young, hott vampire Winston Churchill.
But as she discovers more and more about why lies beneath the surface (both literally and metaphorically) she has no idea who to trust or what side is right.
Xandra kicks a lot of ass (while wearing a bustle!) and definitely has some anger management issues. She's complicated and it takes her a long time to sort our her allegiances. She also has a wonderful snarky voice. I also love the world that Locke has built, the slang, and the history, and the politics at play.
Most of all, I loved the relationship Xandra had with her siblings. The book dedication reads "This book is for my sisters: Heather, Linda and Nathalie. I could list the reasons why, but that would be a book in itself." But this book, under the politics and clothes and crazy-awesome thrill ride, is a love letter to sisterhood.
AND! We only have to wait until February for the sequel, The Queen Is Dead.
ARC Provided by... the publisher, at ALA
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