top of page
  • Writer's pictureSara Bond

Pairings Project: A QUEEN IN HIDING by Sarah Kozloff

TLDR; A sprawling epic fantasy that makes every scene, every character, and every word count.

In a lot of ways A QUEEN IN HIDING is a traditional fantasy. You have political intrigue, royals in peril, scheming machinations of those who want power and the attempts of those who have it to keep it. There’s magic, incredible world-building with maps, cultures that collide, gods that play an active part in people’s lives, and children that are destined for great things. And yet despite all the things that make AQiH familiar, it still reads fresh.

A QUEEN IN HIDING by Sarah Kozloff is the first book in a four book series, each of which is being released one month at a time over the first four months of 2020. Given that each book is around 500 pages, this is an incredibly daring and ambitious project, that takes a confident and capable author to pull off. Kozloff does it, and makes it look easy. She begins her story with Queen Cressa, the young, uncertain, and, at times, reluctant monarch of a country blessed by and guided by a benevolent goddess. She is born into her role, but assumed the throne long before she was ready. Her kingdom is threatened both from forces outside and within her own castle, and it’s all she can do to keep herself and her young daughter Cerulia safe. War is brewing, invasions are imminent, and yet, they may not be the most dangerous things in the realm.

When their lives are put at unavoidable risk, Cressa has to make the choice to flee her throne, in a desperate attempt to preserve the integrity of her rule, and the future rule of Cerulia. For the majority of this first book, we are treated to alternating perspectives from major players across the world. We follow a young scholar as he comes into his knowledge about the world. We follow a soldier who becomes a leader in his own country’s ambitious but desperate military. We get the perspectives of wily advisors, nurturing nursemaids, broken men chosen as vessels for the gods, and of course, the titular queens. Every character is wholly realized and has a distinct voice and perspective, and through them, we see a world poised on the edge of change.

As sprawling and as dense an epic as A QUEEN IN HIDING is, there is not a scene that seems to be wasted. Kozloff has managed to focus all of her attentions on the story, with everything driving toward deeper conspiracies, mysteries, and convolutions within the world. Though at times the narrative can seem to jump radically forward in time, it only serves to keep the book as spare as it can be. Each scene matters and is crucial, with details that build on each other so subtly, that what could easily be skimmed over in earlier scenes becomes crucial later in the book. And the pacing is so relentless, as soon as I had the time, I was able to blow through the 500 pages in a week-long binge, and still be hungry for the next in the series. It is so masterfully done, and it makes it hard to believe that this is Kozloff’s debut novel.

I got so sucked into Cressa and Cerulia’s story, I picked up the next book and preordered the third. That gives me one week to finish Book 2, slam back Book 3, and then wait interminably long for the final book to come out in April. I’m suddenly thankful that Tor decided to grant such an accelerated publication schedule, because these books are addictive.

TLDR; A sprawling epic fantasy that makes every scene, every character, and every word count.

Scroll down for a cocktail pairing for A QUEEN IN HIDING!

I really struggled to find a cocktail that worked well with A QUEEN IN HIDING. I tried finding something that was named appropriately, maybe a “Royale” drink or a “Queen” something. Even a “Majestic” whatever would have worked, but everything I found that fit the name theme was too bubbly or sweet. That would not work for the tone of this book. It is too desperate, too raw.

Next I thought of playing with the idea of hiding. Maybe there could be a drink that had a punch to it, or hid the taste of its ingredients. But Long Island Iced Tea and sweet but strong shooters were also all wrong.

So I went back to my fundamentals. I decided to start with a base liquor that suited the overall feel of the book. Brandy worked. It has the strength and heft to carry an epic story, but doesn’t rely on brute strength to get its way. Both Cressa and Cerulia have magical gifts that are softer, subtler, and brandy seemed a better compliment to their characters.

Turning to my bar book, I found a drink that mixed two fruit brandies (apricot and apple) with gin and fruit juices. And it had a perfect name. The Golden Dawn gives the idea of hope, of potential. It’s perfect for this opening book that, though bleak at times, always allows the darkness to give way to the dawn. Light will prevail; it just might take us three more books to get there.

Without further ado, I give you, The Golden Dawn.

Golden Dawn

1 oz gin

1 oz peach brandy

1 oz Calvados

Dash of fresh orange juice

Dash of grenadine

Vigorously shake the gin, apricot brandy, calvados and orange juice with ice. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Float the grenadine on top.

Note, the original recipe called for apricot brandy. Unfortunately, I could not find apricot brandy at my local store,and with my city going into lockdown with the Coronavirus outbreak, I wasn't able to go to multiple places to search. Luckily, the peach works beautifully, both for color and taste. Enjoy!

19 views0 comments


bottom of page