I received an Advanced Copy of “The Queen of Someday” by the publisher for an honest review.
I am a huge fan of re-tellings especially of historical events or figures. I am a History buff and have a HUGE interest in the European Monarchies, geeky, but I’m telling you, you can’t make some of that stuff up–it’s the good. That being said, sometimes I get nervous around retellings. They aren’t always good and they aren’t always very accurate. Some still have that guilty-pleasure feel (I’m looking at you Reign), but often times blatant ignorance of the time period, customs, and culture can lead the reader wondering why you even decided to play with these interesting, historical characters. Enter, “The Queen of Someday,” by Sherry D. Ficklin, which manages to stear clear of almost every faux-paux that can haunt a retelling while still being interesting and magical. I think retellings are hard to write because you have to really engage your readers, since the ending has already, essentially happened. Through her main characters spunk, a forbidden love, and some very perilous court situations, Ficklin manages to write a beautiful story about the young, Sophia then a Prussian Princess, as she begins her journey towards becoming Catherine the Great.
Synopsis: The book follows Sophia as she journeys from Prussia with her Mother to the Imperial Court of Russia’s Empress Elizabeth. Her family, as well as, Empress Elizabeth, are hoping to marry Sophia off to the heir to the Russian throne, Peter. Mostly, that all goes as planned, minus a few snafu’s of Peter being an insolent child and burgeoning sociopath, and Sophia being in love with another man.
What I loved: The writing. I know that is kind of vague, but the prose was so beautifully created that I really felt like I was in Sophia’s head, and in Russian court. Ficklin, drew me in almost immediately and I struggled to step away from the book for even a minute. It was also nice that she did her research! The characters, were real members of Russian court, and the fear of Prussian alliances was also very real. Obviously, there were some liberties taken, but they weren’t blatant and probably weren’t something anyone who wasn’t very familiar with the time period would notice. What I really and truly loved was the relationship between Alexander and Sophia. It was magnetic and beautiful, yet so tragic. Even though I knew that Sophia would ultimately become Catherine the Great and marry Peter III of Russia, there was a part of me that so desperately wanted her to escape with Alexander, even if it was for a short time, and find true happiness.
What I disliked: I would have liked to see more of the relationship between Empress Elizabeth and Sophia, I felt like it was not fully fleshed out until the end, and perhaps that was because of Sophia’s realizations. I also disliked how Sophia treats Rina towards the end of their time together, it felt very rushed to me. She’s understandably hurt, upset, and confused, but she seems to deal with all of these emotions very quickly. In general, I felt a little rushed to get to the specific ending point.
Overall, I absolutely loved this book. It was a fresh take on the story of a young Catherine the Great and was not only historically accurate, but also beautiful and engaging. 8.5/10