THE QUEEN OF SWORDS is a very different book from the others since it centers primarily around Maud Stapleton and her daughter Constance as well as their ancestor, Anne Bonnie. It gives the history of the Order of Lilith as well as their relationship with the evil god Typhon. There's a lot going on in this book with many of the events following The Shotgun Arcana, which was a book I very much enjoyed. Sadly, most of it takes place outside of the town of Golgotha that is the true star of the series.
The story is about how Maud's child Constance was taken from her by her well-meaning but foolish father, Martin, who now has the South Carolina legal system protecting him as her legal guardian. Maud wants to get her daughter back the "right" way and that means fighting the misogynist court system that will almost certainly rule against her. Even worse, she is being hunted by the Order of Lilith that maintains that Constance must be sacrificed to restore their waning powers. Oh and there's yet another horrifying demonic creature out to destroy the world.
I enjoyed this book a great deal but miss the Western theme and other characters. The book barely has many of the characters that made the previous book so awesome like Mutt, Sheriff Highfather, and Biq the angel. While Maud is a great character and so is her ancestor, Anne Bonnie, there's a lot of the series' signature feel missing from the story since the majority of it takes place away from Golgotha.
Indeed, this story can't be said to be a Western at all since the majority it takes place in either South Carolina or Africa. The Anne Bonnie sections have her escape her historical execution and seek out a vast treasure that she is only semi-convinced is real. I enjoyed this but much of it seemed to be based around overcoming the poor first impression she made in the first book of being a slave-owner who was obsessed with freedom for women. Here, it's retconned that she never owned slaves and just pretended to while actually being an abolitionist. I feel like that removed some of the character's believability even if it certainly makes her more redeemable.
The villains are slightly less over the top this time around with Typhon having a bit more personality than the Darkling or even Raziel. He's still another baddie obsessed with unmaking the world but he's able to hold more coherent conversations with the heroes. I do think the series suffers from "all or nothing" baddies where there's not much room for nuance. Ironically, my favorite character in the book is Martin because he's an antagonist that thinks he's doing the right thing trying to keep Constance from Golgotha.
The Order of Lilith is a good group as well because they manage to be completely wrong in their actions, planning a human sacrifice of a young woman, but are motivated by fear for their order dying as well as the end of their family legacies. It is a multicultural and interesting group that rejects gods as well as traditional structures while keeping heavily to their own rules. I actually would have appreciated seeing them as continuing antagonists but this just isn't that kind of series.
In conclusion, I enjoyed this novel and am heading on over to the latest book in the series. It's a return to Golgotha and the Wild West with the characters that I felt were missing this time around. I enjoyed this book but it does feel a bit more like a spin-off than an actual continuation.