Title: Queen of the Night (This is Shyness, #2)
Author: Leanne Hall
Rating: 5 Stars
If This is Shyness was a portal into an unbelievable dream-world, Queen of the Night is the tender few moments suspended between that dream and reality. When I first read This is Shyness a few months back, I was exhilarated beyond belief at the remarkably original tale Hall had managed to create, yet, I never felt as if anything was missing. With Queen of the Night, however, Leanne Hall enables us to see just how much more there is to the unique world she imagined. While we are thrown, once again, into the world of Shyness, its mysteries, and the enigmatic lives of Wolfboy and Wildgirl, we are also given, for once, a much more slower, brooding, and thought-provoking experience than we ever had before.
It has been six months and thirteen days since Nia last saw Jethro in Shyness and not a day has gone by without her thinking of him. Jethro, however, has not called Nia in the long months they’ve been apart and although Nia doesn’t know it, Jethro is constantly thinking about her too. With the passage of time however, more than just Nia and Jethro have changed; Shyness has changed as well. While the city remains to be as dark as ever, stranger things than usual seem to be happening, one of which is Paul, Jethro’s best friend, wandering the streets with a group of trance-like people dressed in blue. Thus, with more questions than answers and no way to help his friend, Jethro is forced to turn to Nia and request her to return back to Shyness with him. Yet, this time, more than simply their relationship is at stake – their very dreams and reality are too.
One of the first things to strike you about Queen of the Night, either than Leanne Hall’s beautiful prose, is just how much you missed the world of Shyness, and, in particular, Wolfboy and Wildgirl
although really we all just missed Wolfboy if we’re being honest. Hall’s imaginative land, whether you are aware of it or not, has wormed its way into your heart and returning back to these pages with their languid phrases and contemplative dual narration feels exactly like returning home. While the pacing and focus of this novel is far different from its predecessor, it is also, strangely, exactly right. We are exempt from the shy endearments of Wolfboy and Wildgirl’s first love and are instead treated to a subtle awkwardness as they attempt to re-learn each other without the craziness of one night tying them together. Queen of the Night spans, instead, over a longer period of time as Wolfboy and Wildgirl grow back together and I simply adored the realistic manner in which their romance played out as the novel unfolded.
Yet, even more than that, Queen of the Night focuses on Shyness, making this land the most mysterious character of all. Hall begins to peel back some of the clouds covering the origins of this city and while we are granted more answers by the end of this novel, we are also left with an even larger pool of questions. Even more than that though, with her sophomore novel Hall makes us think. While This is Shyness was a journey we were forced to undertake without too much thought, Queen of the Night is a novel that starts out much like any other romance and slowly transforms into a symbolic tale, forcing the reader to question the very substance of dreams, our imaginations, and the barrier between reality and our subconscious. It’s one of those rare stories that leaves you feeling satisfied at the end, but also leaves you hanging and
praying fervently hoping for another venture into Shyness.
In reality though, Hall’s sophomore novel is far stronger than her debut ever was. It is a much more contemplative and thought-provoking story and I doubt that no matter how many times I re-read it, I will ever even begin to graze the hidden meanings and reflective themes incorporated into this tale. It contains the trademark imagination and gorgeous writing that Leanne Hall is known for, but it also goes above and beyond to show us a glimpse into a flawed world wrought with vulnerable characters and overshadowed by both a literal and metaphorical darkness. It is difficult for me to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes these books work, for I am not one to embrace unusually open endings or unexplained subjects, but despite all that, it is impossible not to fall head-over-heels in love with this tale. Queen of the Night is sure to satisfy fans of This is Shyness and win over those on the fence about Hall’s debut. Me? Well, it’s safe to say that I fell in love with
Wolfboy Shyness all over again and can only hope that Leanne Hall chooses to write a sequel so that I can crawl into Wolfboy’s lap and stroke his cheek like I so desperately want to. ;)