The Rebel Queen is India's Queen Lakshmi from the mid 1800s. The British are slowly taking over India. Our narrator is Sita, a young girl from a small village that has trained for years to be one of the queen's guards. In her village, she was subject to purdah, the seclusion of women from public. She never left her home, unless she was in a covered buggy. The family is very poor and there is no chance of a dowry so that Sita can marry, so her father plans for her to become a member of the Durga Dal, the group of elite female soldiers that protect the queen.
Sita's life changes dramatically after her arrival at the palace, and she wins favor with the queen because she can speak English. Tensions continue to mount, as the British take over more and more of India. After unbelievable tragedy, the queen has no power. The British are prepared to relieve her of her kingdom. But the queen, Sita, and the other Durga Dal won't let that happen without a fight.
The customs of India are engrossing. The characters are vivid and interesting, each with distinct personalities. Sita makes mistakes but is always strong. There's heartbreak and brutality beyond belief. There's romance and devotion to god. I was fascinated by every minute of this story, which is based in fact. I couldn't put it down.
I've always been a Moran fan, and Rebel Queen just solidifies my admiration. I still haven't read Nefertiti, but it's going on the list! Anyone who enjoys historical fiction will love this well-written beautiful story. And, if you are interested in the history of India, Rebel Queen will captivate.
Published by Touchstone, March 3, 2015
eARC obtained from Edelweiss and NetGalley
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