Winning the crown was only the beginning.
Jacs, now the rightful Queen of Frea, seems to be Queen in title alone. She scrambles to learn the customs and traditions of a Realm she had only read about in books. The Council of Four have her firmly under their thumb, and their ideas for the Queendom are oppressive and outdated. Their knowledge of her mother and Master Leschi’s whereabouts is the only leverage they need to make the new Queen dance to their tune.
Jacs is determined to find those who were taken from her and do what’s right for her Queendom. But in her search for answers, Jacs uncovers a much darker truth from the Queendom’s past that will forever change its future.
*Interview with author Jordan H. Bartlett*
Jordan H. Bartlett is a New Zealand-born Canadian with a love for children’s literature and female empowerment. She grew up reading books about boys for boys and found it hard to find a strong female heroine she could relate to. Bartlett wrote Contest of Queens to give young readers that character she so longed for in a world where gender norms are reversed. Bartlett currently resides in Banff, Alberta where she works as a Speech Language Pathologist and is a certified yoga instructor.
connect with the author: website ~ facebook ~ instagram ~ goodreads
Where did your inspiration for this series come from?
A few things went into the lightbulb that went off in my head for this series. The concept of a split-level kingdom (now queendom) has been in my mind since I was fifteen, as has the character of Jacs and her desire to make it to the Upper Realm. Both stemmed from the fairy tale retelling phase I was in at the time and my affinity for Jack and the Beanstalk. Many many years later, my Poppa became ill. There’s not a lot you can do when you start to lose a loved one. However, my Poppa was an amazing storyteller, and when I was younger, one of my favorite stories that he would tell us was Jack and the Beanstalk. So something I could do to honor him was to write a story of my own, inspired by his.
The idea of a fantasy novel set in a matriarchal society came from a conversation I had with a dear friend of mine over tea. We were discussing how annoying it was that so many fantasy authors will create worlds with dragons and elves and whole new cultures and language systems but somehow decide to keep sexism and racism as a norm. The beauty of a fantasy world is that you can do whatever you want. You can create your own rules. Fantasy novels are a beautiful source of escapism, so why would I want to escape into a world where the societal narrative is the same (often worse) sexist bologna we deal with in our day-to-day?
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
When going through hell, keep going. I know that’s a Winston Churchill quote, but my Mum wrote it down on a piece of paper for me to slip in my wallet when I was having a hard time, and it’s that notion, that idea of just keep moving forward that has been so important for me regardless of what stage of life I’m at.
What made you decide you wanted to be a writer?
If I’m honest, I think I wrote a book first and realized I was therefore a writer! I’ve had this story in my heart and head since I was fifteen and finally decided to put it on paper. Once it was there, I knew it was something I needed to share with the world, so I set about finding a publisher who agreed with me. It took a lot of hard work and hundreds of hours, but I wouldn’t change a moment of the journey for anything.
If you could put yourself as a character in your series, who would you be?
That’s a tricky question. To be Jacs means I’m the main character and that I get to ride with Griffins—that would be incredible. To be Amber means I get to become one of the most effective warriors the Queendom has ever seen. And to be Master Leschi means I get to be an incredible inventor who helps deliver a queen to the castle in a hot air balloon. I couldn’t choose! I guess it’s a good thing I get to write about them all and many more.
Do you ever get writer’s block? What helps you overcome it?
I don’t want to say no outright, because I definitely have days where writing is hard, or where I’ve created a plot problem that needs solving, but I have never really had an outright block (touch wood). I think it’s because I always make sure to put even a few words on paper—even if they’re just going to be deleted later. It links back to the best advice I’ve ever been given, keep moving forward, one step in front of the other, one word follows the next, and pretty soon you’re out of the weeds and back where you need to be.
Is there a specific ritualistic thing you do during your writing time?
I always need an active cup of tea or coffee. This also ensures I get up and stretch my legs every once and a while when I need a refill! Ideally, I would have either an oat milk latte or a cup of druid’s magic tea (from Banff Tea Company). I also like to listen to instrumental film soundtracks while I work.
Queen’s Catacombs is book two in the Frean Chronicles and the amazing sequel to Contest of Queens!
It picks up right where we left off, with Jac’s trying to adjust to her new role as queen. I loved the fact that it wasn’t all ‘Happily Ever After’ for Jacs and her crew after the Contest. Bartlett uses the steam she built up from her previous book and sends us on this action packed, edge of your seat adventure!
Jacs and Conner’s relationship is tested again and again. Conner puts his trust in the Council and believes that they can do no wrong. Jacs butts heads with the Council, them forever seeing her as a Lowrain and nothing more. These two experiences cause Jacs and Conner to clash, and leaves Jacs feeling misunderstood and disappointed.
I’m rooting for these two though! I need to see Conner pull through and for Jacs to put everyone in their place.
The world building is fantastic. I enjoyed being able to experience more of the Catacombs that we got a glimpse of in the previous book. The subterfuge is so strong in Queen’s Catacombs. The political intrigue is top notch, the drama of it all has your eyes glued to the page.
The Undercourt is wicked, in all senses of the word. The whole cult was an epic twist.
Like with Contest of Queens, Queen’s Catacombs is written in multiple POVs. I love this! One of my favorite things about reading is getting to experience a myriad of emotions, and multiple POV definitely helps satisfy my need for emotion! Being able to experience a scene from different perspectives, in my opinion, makes the story more immersive. Bartlett delivers!
I cannot wait for the next book to come out!
I rated Queen’s Catacombs five stars.
Title: Queen’s Catacombs
Series: The Frean Chronicles #2
Author: Jordan H. Bartlett
Category: YA Fiction (Ages 13-17), 416 pages
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: CamCat Books
Release date: Mar 2023
Content Rating: PG – Very clean, but there is some brief violence.
Three (3) winners will receive a signed hardcover copy of Queen’s Catacombs by Jordan H. Bartlett. (US Only)
Giveaway end April 17th 2023.
*Click the link to be taken to the giveaway*
looks like a great book