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Book review: Third book in the Red Queen series starts slow but is worth it in the end

Posted February 6

"KING'S CAGE," by Victoria Aveyard, HarperTeen, $19.99, 528 pages (f) (ages 14 and up)

The long-awaited third book in Victoria Aveyard's best-selling Red Queen series, "King's Cage," begins with Mare Barrow in, oddly enough, a king's cage. In a world where those with gifted silver blood rule, King Maven Calore, Mare's once-betrothed who has betrayed her, has separated her from the red-blooded rebels seeking to remove him from his throne. He's imprisoned her in his castle with guards and manacles that suppress her lightning abilities and leave her miserable and alone.

Still in love with Mare in a disturbed way, Maven won't kill her and always keeps her close, even as he tortures her and uses her to further his schemes for power and dominance.

These goings-on take up the better part of the first 300 or so pages of this more than 500-page novel, making the beginning two-thirds of the book something of a slow and depressing read.

There are some breaks from this storyline — shown in the viewpoint of Cameron, a newblood rebel that Mare recruited in "Glass Sword," the second book in the series — which show how the rebellion is progressing during Mare's imprisonment. These chapters also show Cal, Maven's exiled older brother who loves Mare in a much healthier way, and his determination to find a way to break her out.

Readers desperate to know what happens will have to hold their breath until, after much suffering, the plotline finally progresses and the last 200 pages fly by in a flurry of romance, action and everything readers were likely hoping for in this stage of the series.

There are also a few chapters toward the end written from the perspective of Evangeline Samos, a character previously only portrayed as a heartless antagonist. In this book, depth is given to her motivations, making her a more sympathetic character who is likely to continue to progress in interesting ways.

Although the first 60 percent of the novel is tiresome, the rest of it almost makes it worth it. Readers can hope the momentum at the end of the book will only carry onto the expected fourth installment.

This young adult dystopian novel, which is set to be released Tuesday, Feb. 7, contains few instances of strong swearing, many scenes of described violence and includes a lesbian relationship. There is implied sex between young adults, but it is only vaguely described.

Email: mbulsiewicz@deseretnews.com

Twitter: mgarrett589

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