Sarah Beth Durst's The Queen of Blood
Here's the thing: this book is the start of a series that has the potential to be really good and/or interesting, but this first volume is SO formulaic that I'm honestly not sure! The world-building is cool--lands are controlled by a queen who has power over spirits who otherwise would destroy humans, and girls with the affinity to control spirits are trained as heirs. Our protagonist is from a village that was completely decimated, and she goes through the usual training/trials, etc, to try and prove herself worthy of being an heir. And there's also a whole thing with an exiled champion/former lover of the queen's. I mean, the writing is fine and the characters are great, but the plot is like cliche-o-rama, so majorly predictable. I liked that sex was treated matter-of-factly (and happened off-screen) and am intrigued by the whole sort-of-matriarchal society, and if the next book focuses on the political stuff, I might read it, but this is like . . . just a good example of the usual Hunger-Games-y fantasy book that I have read a million times lately. B.
A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released in September.