The leader of a family of thieves, Balthazar Valdaren is about to attempt the most challenging heist of his career: pilfering a jade idol right out from under the nose of its owner, on the day of its consecration. From that description, a reader might expect this story to be about a crew of con men in the early 21st century. Instead, Greta Kelly’s The Queen of Days takes readers to the island of Cothis, in a fantasy realm resembling the 17th century. The swagger and the cons are still here, but instead of casinos and 21st-century technology, Balthazar and his crew are tangling with gods and demigods.
Kelly begins by introducing the book’s other primary protagonist: the Queen of Days, Tassiel. Tassiel, who will be joining Bal on the job, is one of the Septiniri: half-human, half-Ankaari, a god that can manipulate time. Bal and his crew—his bastard brother, Kai; his cousin Zee and her husband, Edik; and Bal’s young sister, Mira—quickly discover just how powerful a Septinri can be. Tass, as the Queen of Days prefers to be called, charges each crew member a month of their life to help them with the heist.
After that less-than-happy revelation, the action begins and does not let up. Balthazar, Tass and their scrappy crew run from planning to fighting to hiding to heisting with a ferocity that makes the book difficult to put down. Kelly efficiently relays the crew’s history and relationships through their interactions: Kai makes an off-color comment, Edik admonishes him, Zee rolls her eyes, then Bal keeps the plan moving. These quick moments of characterization allow Kelly to focus on the beat-to-beat action without pausing for exposition. As the outcast in more ways than one, Tass is the only exception. The chapters from her point of view are far more introspective as she learns new things about herself and the humans she is helping.
By the end of the book, some amount of heisting has completed, Tass has grown and evolved as a result of her time with the crew, and the stage is set for this motley team’s next adventure. The Queen of Days is a fantastic piece of escapist fantasy for readers looking to leave planet Earth for a few hundred pages.