Genre: High Fantasy, Action-Adventure, YA
LGBTQ+ Category: Lesbian
About The Book
Monarchs often face the consequences of a predecessor’s actions—but death is asking too much.
Kitlyn and Oona never wanted power, only to love each other… a potentially deadly desire in a kingdom obsessed with a twisted notion of purity. After years hiding the truth, even from themselves, they sit on the throne together as queens. It only took bringing an end to a horrible war—and the direct intervention of a goddess—for the citizens to accept a marriage between two young women.
Earning the respect of two kingdoms affords them the opportunity of learning how to lead, but goodwill won’t last forever in the face of complacency. Their resolve is tested as beasts long thought mythical are spotted around the kingdom, threatening the citizens. The sightings take an ominous turn when a stranger wielding unknown powers strolls into the throne room.
Worse , the ancient curse still stalks Kitlyn. A cryptic message from a ghost offers her only chance to survive… if she dares risk the safety of the kingdom to spare her own life.
This review contains spoilers for The Eldritch Heart and The Cursed Crown, books 1 and 2 of the Eldritch Heart series by Matthew S Cox.
The Sapphire Soul is the third installment in Cox’s YA lesbian fantasy series. Kitlyn and Oona, queens and wives, are co-ruling a kingdom but all they ever wanted was to be with each other. Instead, they have brought an end to a war that had been built on a lie perpetrated by the previous king. The two young women, despite only being sixteen, are wise beyond their years thanks to their trials and tribulations.
But there was never going to be an easy “happily ever after” – the people are still reeling in the face of his lies and the social issues will take longer than a few months of peace to heal, and heroes quickly lose the gratitude and goodwill of the people when things go wrong, even if it isn’t the fault of said heroes – and to top it all off, Kitlyn is being stalked by an ancient curse.
The fantastical elements of the series are out in full force in this book. Faeries, spirits, ghosts, walking skeletons – each page is rich with the magic of the world, the action ramps up with each new conflict, and Oona has grown into her powers.
As with the previous books, the most enjoyable scenes are those quiet moments between Kitlyn and Oona. Their affection for each other is tenderly written and beautifully conveyed. You can feel their love for each other in just about every sentence. Their connection is pure and strong, built on years of friendship, and they make not only an inspiring co-Queen couple, but a triumph of young lesbian love that any YA or adult reader would feel delighted to see in fiction.
Cox has crafted an intimate love story between Kitlyn and Oona and woven it into an epic YA fantasy adventure that deftly deals with very real questions of the intersection of politics, society, religion and magic.
The Sapphire Soul is long book and fairly dense in sections, and you can’t hope to understand what goes on without reading the first two books in the series. Simply too much plot and character development occurs. The Sapphire Soul is a fantastic third installment to the Eldritch Heart series. It’s the sort of series I wish existed when I was a teenager. I highly recommend all three books to anyone looking for a YA high fantasy series with a moving lesbian romance that is integral to its very concept.
H. L. is a Jewish Australian writer of LGBT+ fiction. She holds a Master of Arts in International Relations (2015) and a Bachelor of Media in Communications and Journalism (2012), both from the University of New South Wales.
She has been writing stories since she was old enough to hold a pen. She is the author of M/M fantasy romance novels Heart Of Dust and Soul Of Ash, Books 1 & 2 of the Death’s Embrace series.
She has had two speculative short stories published: “The Collector” in the 2014 Future Times Award Collection A Tick Tock Heart, and “Entente” in the 2020 Twisted Stories Award Collection Just Alice.