I wasn’t expecting this to be better than Queen’s Shadow, which I loved, but it was. It was so much better.
I also wasn’t expecting it to be so wonderfully open about the feelings the handmaidens, and Padme herself, developed for each other. To the point that I find myself weirdly annoyed that I know that Anakin comes along and so Padme and Sabe don’t end up together.
Also, teenage girls getting their first period in an embarrassing way has become something of a theme in the media I’ve been consuming lately, having recently also watched The Craft: Legacy and The Queen’s Gambit. But it was refreshing to see it covered here, in a Star Wars book. And, really, while it may have made some male readers uncomfortable, it’s a book about a group of adolescent girls, for it not to come up would have been absurd.
I particularly loved the way the invasion of Naboo essentially comes out of nowhere and completely derails the plot. It felt very real, and very disorienting. Suddenly a story about a group of young girls getting to know each other and build political ties with the other planets in their system becomes a story about torture and pain and loss.
This leaves me wanting more from EK Johnston, although another book about the handmaidens seems unlikely (is there room for one set between Epsiodes II and III? Where, perhaps, Sabe deals with her jealousy of Anakin and the handmaidens have to pretend they don’t know about Padme and Anakin’s marriage? Perhaps… I’d also like to see Johnston tackle the as yet untold story of Obi-Wan and Satine’s romance. And maybe we could finally learn the truth about Korkie Kryze…?