Queen of Dreams (The Masks of Under, book 3) by Kathryn Ann Kingsley
It was supposed to be the end of my story. But after Aon buried me in the Pool of the Ancients, I learned that Under wasn’t done with me yet.
Even though I escaped death the first time, there’s a prophecy predicting my demise, and it’s driving Aon mad. His desperation to protect me is dangerous, deadly, and I’m afraid of what he might do.
The void that threatens to destroy this world is receding, yet Under is still not safe. I can feel it in my blood, the warning that something terrible is coming. Something bigger and stronger than all of us.
But I am no longer the human girl merely fighting for survival. I’m different now, changed into something this world hasn’t seen in fifteen hundred years.
I am immortal, a queen of Under.
I am the Queen of Dreams.
When things are looking bad, they become... a little worse? At the end of King of Shadows, Lydia dies by Edu’s hand, and Aon believes that his chance for love is over. The vengeful King of Flames has finally achieved that which he’s sought - the mysterious, mortal Lydia’s death so that Aon can’t use her “secrets” to resurrect the House of Dreams and control Under. But this isn’t actually the end of Lydia’s story. Because the Ancients aren’t done with her just yet.
Once again, Queen of Dreams picks up where King of Shadows left off - with Aon burying Lydia in the Pool of the Ancients. Instead of simply healing her, the Ancients transform Lydia, turning her into a true member of Under. And which house does she happen to Fall into? Why, the House of Dreams of course, and she’s not just any member - Lydia is the Queen of Dreams.
We’re immediately introduced to a new character, one whom Lydia has created as a host for her power. The ghostly, size-changing snake becomes Lydia’s companion as she’s thrust into even more harm and danger. Although Under has been saved from the creeping void, now it’s the surviving members of Under that Lydia has to fear. Chiefly, Edu and Aon.
So much of this story focuses on character development. While the main focuses are on Lydia, Aon, Edu, and Lyon, everyone in Under experiences some kind of shift now that Lydia has come back to life, the House of Dreams has returned, and Under is no longer under threat of disappearing into the void. For Lydia, it’s coming to terms with what she’s become. She’s now an immortal queen with the power to create monsters from her dreams. And like most hero transformations, she immediately doesn’t want to use her powers. But putting them into her snake, which she names Q, she has different access to the powers that the other Kings and Queens of do. And that’s where Aon comes in.
Shortly after he rediscovers that Lydia has come back to life, Ziza the Oracle comes to him with a three part prophecy. In short, he’s the one who has to help her release her fears and use all of her new powers. And it’s a struggle. He now must harm the woman he loves - because she’s grown too comfortable and complacent under his care. Not only do we finally get to see the extent of Avon’s cruelty, but we also see him grapple with emotions on a far deeper scale than ever before. And we finally begin to learn about what really started the Great War.
Edu... changes some. He’s found a new kind of affection in Evie, but for the most part he remains a wrathful lord. He’s convinced the Aon has Lydia as his captive, using her and her new abilities for nefarious purposes. And so he takes the necessary steps to prevent his greatest enemy from gaining eve more power. Edu remains a good driving force for the plot (albeit being a stubborn force), and I liked hearing more of his backstory and why he clashes so much with Aon. Slowly, the pieces are coming together to explain why these two are such enemies.
Kingsley retains her excellent descriptions and electrifying pacing in this third installment (I was so enthralled that I read it in a day). There are so many pieces still in motion for this dark story, and one thing is resolved, another issue crops up. It keeps the story exciting and compelling without feeling like the plot is being forced along in yet another book. I love that Kingsley isn’t afraid to get into the gristly details when necessary either! Oh man, there were a few scenes in Queen of Dreams that had me cringing! And the humor provided by Q is a great addition to what otherwise would’ve become a grim and dire tale of survival for Lydia and Aon. There’s so much more to come in Under, and I can’t wait to start King of Blood!
For more on Kathryn Ann Kingsley and her The Masks of Under series, check out her website: https://www.kathrynkingsley.com/.