Shifting Sands, Enduring Love—A Review of "Queen of Shifting Sands"

Published 19 Apr 2024
by Anca Antoci

Title: Queen of Shifting Sands
Author: Kaitlyn Carter Brown
Released: 12.03.2024
Buy from Amazon
4.24 (read)
Our review:
3.50 (read)

Today I'm sharing with you Kaitlyn Carter Brown's debut novel courtesy of NetGalley. Tha first thing that got my attention was the book cover and the title. To read the back cover description, tap the book title. 

“Queen of Shifting Sands” invites readers into a realm teetering on the brink of chaos, where political intrigue intertwines with a haunting curse and the burdens of leadership weigh heavily on its protagonists. In this fantasy narrative, author Kaitlyn crafts a tale of love, duty, and resilience amidst the looming threat of war.

What I Loved About It

One of the most enchanting aspects of “Queen of Shifting Sands” is its meticulous world-building, which immerses readers in the kingdom of Instanolde with vivid imagery and rich detail. From the sweeping landscapes to the intricacies of court life, every facet of this realm feels alive and tangible.

The characters, particularly Lystra and Elerek, are compellingly drawn, each grappling with their own inner turmoil and external challenges. Lystra’s strength, though not of the conventional warrior ilk, shines through her unwavering determination to protect her people. Elerek’s curse makes things more complicated for him, but it also makes his character more interesting and inspiring. Confined to a wheelchair, he shattered expectations, proving his disability wouldn't hinder him from becoming an exceptional king. His unwavering love for his family and his fierce determination to secure peace for his kingdom were truly inspiring.

Lystra and Elerek's journey towards love felt achingly real. Their grief, both for their lost loved one and the weight of sudden responsibility thrust upon them after Cormack's death, intertwined beautifully, creating a complex and deeply relatable bond.

The gradual development of their relationship, set against the backdrop of grief and newfound responsibilities, unfolds with a sense of authenticity that resonates deeply with readers. Additionally, Kaitlyn’s prose is nothing short of exquisite, evoking emotions and painting scenes with a masterful touch that captivates from start to finish.

What Didn’t Resonate With Me

While “Queen of Shifting Sands” excels in many aspects, there are a few elements that may give readers pause. Sometimes the pacing feels slow, with parts of the story meandering instead of moving it along. This, along with the occasional use of unfamiliar terminology, pulled me out of the story and detracted from the overall immersion in the world of Instanolde.

Also, although the character development is good, some readers might want to see Lystra and Elerek’s relationship grow more emotionally.

Also there was one thing that irked me, but I can't explain it without giving away spoilers. Let's just say there was one character whose motivations I didn't quite connect with, but this minor detail didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of the story


At its core, “Queen of Shifting Sands” grapples with themes of grief, duty, and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity. Lystra and Elerek’s journey, as they deal with the complexities of their roles as rulers and the weight of their personal losses, serves as a poignant exploration of these themes. It’s a reminder that love, friendship, and the choices we make can transform our lives.

This book delivers a captivating blend of classic tropes like the cursed prince, arranged marriage, fantastic creatures and found family.


In conclusion, “Queen of Shifting Sands” is an amazing story that takes you to a magical world full of intrigue and the power of the human heart. While it may have its pacing issues and occasional stumbling blocks, its compelling characters, lush setting, and poignant themes make it a journey well worth embarking on for fans of fantasy fiction. Kaitlyn’s debut novel marks her as a talent to watch in the genre, and I look forward to what she has in store for readers next.

Our final verdict: