‘The Constant Queen’ by Joanna Courtney

Issue TwoReviews

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Review by Abby Claridge


‘That was well done, my lady,’ Aksel said softly in his newly deep voice.

‘Dignified,’ she told him, ‘that’s what I was looking for.’

‘It was that indeed, but more besides, my lady; it was queenly.’


After finishing Joanna Courtney’s The Constant Queen, I needed some time to reflect before I wrote this review. The Constant Queen is a big book, both physically and rich in plot. This historical romance novel follows the protagonist Princess Elizaveta from the age of twelve. She is both a player and a pawn for the men in her life, in order to claim different thrones.

However, one should not take this to mean that Elizaveta is feeble and submissive. In my opinion, Elizaveta is the strongest character in the novel. She is a likeable protagonist who has a passion for life. As a reader I watched her grapple for power, push those around her to behave like the leaders that they were, but most importantly, I watched her love story evolve with Harald.

Nonetheless, all is not easy and happy in this love affair. Harald has two wives who are forced to co-exist, along with their children, for much of the novel. Courtney’s raw and emotional portrayal of Elizaveta’s inner monologue left me in a state of sadness for much of the book. Courtney confronted me, as a reader, with the slow deconstruction of the happy, independent, strong girl I was introduced to at the start of this story to a weary, world-wise woman whose passion and feelings are often trampled on and disregarded; especially by the man she loves.

And though this disheartening transformation should have made me want to put the book down and pick up a book without so much emotional trauma – I simply couldn’t. Every moment that I could see Elizaveta’s true spirit return, even if just for a moment, despite all those determined to make her seem small and unimportant, I was reminded how each of us must do the same within our everyday lives. Within the character of Elizaveta, Courtney was able to capture what it is to be a human, and what it is to be a woman.


Image courtesy of Amazon.com.