The Once and Future Queen: Secrets of the Starcrossed
Secrets of the Starcrossed is the exciting opening novel of The Once and Future Queen series which blends an alternate history with fantasy. Set in a fictional reality where the Roman Empire has not fallen, the series tells the story of Londinium teenager Cassandra who unearths her true identity and discovers that her fate is far greater than she could ever have imagined. In this, the first of the series, we follow Cassandra as she befriends mysterious rebel Devyn who has come from beyond the walls of Londinium to seek a lost girl with magic in her blood.
One of O’Connor’s greatest achievements within Secrets of the Starcrossed is the intricately built world she has created which effectively brings the Roman Empire into the 21st century and immerses the reader from the very first page. Another of the author’s strengths is her convincing and insightful dialogue which drives the entire novel and keeps the plot unfolding at a good pace throughout.
The romantic plot line is the main sticking point of the otherwise enjoyable read. The romance between Cassandra and Devyn is quite overstated throughout, with the depictions of their chemistry written in a heavily clichéd way. It becomes difficult at times to discern what exactly the purpose of the overt displays of affection between the protagonist and her love interest is, which is distracting for the reader.
Overall, an exciting read which encourages the reader to look back on history and ask, “what if?”