Review: The Queen of Cups by Ren Basel

Theo’s family has long set sail on the ocean, all with the blessing of the Oracle. What will they find when they make their own trip to visit the woman in the dunes?


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Published: 1 March 2019

Publisher: Self-published

Category: LGBT+ Fantasy

A mysterious woman known only as The Oracle resides on the seashore, blessing ships and telling fortunes for those who can pay her price. For new-made ship captain Theo Marinos, the price is higher than it first seems.

If Theo has any hope of surviving their ship’s first voyage, they must trust not just in The Oracle, but in themself–for the journey is long, and the ocean’s tests are many.

Rating: 4 Stars

Rep: Gay, lesbian, trans, nonbinary, autistic, and asexual; MC with synthesia

One of the first things I noticed and loved about Ren’s story was the attention to detail they paid to setting.

The shack was small but not uninviting. Garlands of shells dangling from braided grasses adorned the whitewashed walls. There were shelves lined with gnarled bits of driftwood, wave-polished stones, tiny bits of colorful glass scoured by the sea, and other little treasures turned up by the tides. A scrubbed wooden table and matching chairs rested in front of a modest hearth, and there was a small bed tucked away in a corner.

From the Oracle’s shack to the world around Theo, there were beautiful descriptions that brought to mind these images with ease as the characters moved through Basel’s world. It was almost like the world popped up around me and renewed my love of the sea.

Aside from setting were the characters. I was sad that this was a short story because I could easily have read a full length story about Theo, their crew, and/or their family. Theo, an autistic asexual non-binary ship captain with synthesia, was interesting in and of themselves as they prepared to take to the sea with their own ship. With a family, two fathers and multiple siblings, who all have histories on the ocean, there’s a lot of possibility for tales beyond The Queen of Cups.

Without going into many details and thus potential spoiler territory, I’ll say that Theo learns a lot in their interactions with the Oracle, such as how there are many aspects to a story. The Oracle may have heard many tales and many adventures from across the seas, told to her by those that seek their fortunes, but the color of an individual’s perspective can mean so much more.

Ren Basel’s writing was engaging and made me look forward to more from their repertoire.




I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Quotes included are from an advanced reader copy and may not reflect the finalized copy.

All media belongs to the respective owners and is used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.


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