This review first appeared on Rosie Amber Reviews May 12, 2021. You can purchase Kings and Queens here.
There is something familiar about J.N. Eagles’ Kings and Queens that I cannot quite seem to put my finger on.
Perhaps it reminds me of the sweeping, 19th century epic poems- something along the lines of Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, or Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
Possibly it is something older, sifted from the fragments Sappho or the uneven unfolding that is Ovid’s Metamorphoses.
Chances are, it is something in the middle, that I am hearing an echo of the medieval Breton lai in Eagles’ lines, reminiscent of Sir Orfeo, or Bisclavret.
Or, lastly, maybe, something much, much newer than any of these- like Max Porter’s melding of poetry and story in Grief is a Thing with Feathers.
Whatever lineage my subconscious keeps tripping over, it is obviously there. Eagles’ fairytale through poetry is obviously drawing on threads almost as old as story itself; kingdoms to be defended, thrones to be earned, dragons fought and tamed, selves discovered, and knights to be sacrificed, all time-honored and long-loved pieces of European lore.
There is magic in returning to the staples and reading them anew, and Eagles’ reinterpretation of the classics is just that, magical.
Grounded with a queen trying to find her own voice and place within her kingdom, and punctuated by beautiful pen and ink illustrations, Kings and Queens is marketed as coming of age poetry, likely geared towards younger readers, but is sure to be enjoyed by lovers of verse and story at any age.