Fantasy standalones don’t happen very often so when I saw that Long May She Reign was a fantasy standalone with a mystery and a female character with unusual likes for her time period I was sold. But what I got was sadly disappointing.
Long May She Reign is set in an unspecified but clearly pre-electricity era. Our main character, Freya, is more likely to be found performing experiments in her lab instead of attending the court functions that she is supposed to as twenty-third in line to the throne. This preoccupation with science is what saves her life when a mass poisoning kills off a large majority of the court while she’s safely out of the palace conducting her research. This means that, just a chapter or so into the book, Freya discovers that she has now become queen.
But Freya is no one’s idea of a queen. She is a bit socially inept and has anxiety issues, clumsy, and she doesn’t think like the royals the kingdom and its councilors are used to. And some of the people now closest to her wonder if she had a hand in the death of the king and his court, especially given that she’s experimenting with poisons (though she’s only doing so in order to find the murderer herself.) So Freya has to grow into her own skin and into the throne.
Interesting enough, right? Well kind of. The characters weren’t all that fleshed out. Freya gets over her anxiety fairly easily. Some of the writing was stilted and didn’t flow well. Huge passages of the story were boring beyond belief. And the conclusion to who murdered the court was rather unsatisfactory.
So in short the book was not as fleshed out as I feel it should have been. And maybe that’s why most fantasy novels aren’t standalone. There’s not enough space to build a world and it’s people in just one novel.