Book Review: A Beggar’s Kingdom by Paullina Simons

A Beggar’s Kingdom (End of Forever saga – book 2)…

About the Book:

Love was just the beginning … The second novel in Paullina Simons’ stunning End of Forever saga continues the heartbreaking story of Julian and Josephine, and a love that spans lifetimes.

Sometimes a second chance is your only hope.

Is there a fate beyond the fates? Julian has failed Josephine once. Despite grave danger and impossible odds, he is determined to do the unimaginable and try again to save the woman he loves.

What follows is a love story like no other as the doomed lovers embark on an incredible adventure across time and space. Racing through history and against the merciless clock, they face countless dangers and deadly enemies.

Living amid beauty and ecstasy, bloodshed and betrayal, each time they court and cheat death brings Julian and Josephine closer to an unthinkable sacrifice and a confrontation with the harshest master of all…destiny.

My Thoughts:

Earlier this year I read The Tiger Catcher, book one in a new series by Paullina Simons which she calls, the End of Forever saga. A Beggar’s Kingdom is book two, and what an extraordinary ride it is! Granted, it’s very long, far more than its predecessor, and more than two hundred pages chunkier than its follow up. There were a few times, particularly in the middle, where I began to feel the weight of this length, but before I knew it, Paullina had done it again: kept me on my toes and bludgeoned me with the unexpected. I think that’s part of why I really like these books so much, they’re constantly surprising me and almost genre-less. This one, A Beggar’s Kingdom, is both contemporary and historical fiction – and no, I don’t mean dual timeline. Julian time travels four times to four different historical eras – so you can throw in magical realism, alongside mystery, romance at times, and the narrative is so lyrical that it borders on literary more often than not. I absolutely love it all the more for this mish-mash of genre and form. Not many authors can achieve this with any degree of finesse, but Paullina Simons seems to have made it all her own style.

‘Nothing remained in the whiteout desert that was Julian’s life, across every icy plane, across every dimension. Everything was levelled.’

A Beggar’s Kingdom is quite an ambitious achievement. Four historical eras, each in a different century; the world building alone is impressive. And there is so much in terms of detail and atmosphere poured into each era. As a fan of historical fiction, this was a treat quadrupled. This novel also dives deeper into who Julian is, the depth of his friendship with Ashton, which also gives us more insight into Ashton himself. We learn more about Devi, as well as Ava, who is Mia’s mother (Mia is Josephine’s real name). I really enjoyed this character development of all the major players, and like the intricate world building, this character building is meticulous and not without purpose – in every instance. Like a puzzle to be fitted together, Paullina scatters her pieces over the many chapters, but through character and setting, they all begin to click into place. Storytelling brilliance.

There is a lot of pain and anguish within this novel, even more so than the first. Grief abounds, not just for Julian, and when we think Paullina can’t possibly inflict anymore suffering upon him, well, she goes ahead and does it anyway. We also finally get to meet a Josephine/Mia that is not only tolerable, but actually very likeable, which makes her inevitable death hurt even more. But overall, it’s Julian’s passion and force of conviction that he can rewrite the past that steals the show here. He dies himself, a little bit more, each time he time travels, but he just never gives up. This is more epic love story than sweeping romance, with all of the tragedy and the never getting even close to a happy ending. I just can’t get enough of it. It’s possibly one of the grimmest novels I’ve ever read, but the sharp humour, the expansive world building, unique story arc, and very human characters, all make A Beggar’s Kingdom one of my top five favourites from Paullina Simons. It’s that good. But, you can’t read it as a standalone. Definitely not. It’s all or nothing with this saga, which in actuality, is more like one very long novel split into three parts, than a series in its usual form.

‘You looked at me strangely, too deeply. You stared at me with pain in your eyes. You do see how that can unsettle any girl, not just me, how that can make any girl uneasy? You looked at me like I broke your heart, yet I didn’t know you at all.’

Highly recommended, and if you haven’t read the first, The Tiger Catcher, you can catch up on my review here.


About the Author:

Paullina Simons was born in Leningrad in 1963. As a child she emigrated to Queens, New York, and attended colleges in Long Island. Then she moved to England and attended Essex University, before returning to America. She lives in New York with her husband and children.

A Beggar’s Kingdom
Published by HarperCollins Publishers Australia
Released July 2019

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