Historical fiction, fantasy, and romance collide in this hypnotic book.
The Dark Queen by Susan Carroll is the latest episode in my Bookshelf Cleanout. I’d acquired this battered copy at a library book sale, and it’d been gathering dust for probably a couple of years.
From the Cover: From Brittany’s misty shores to the decadent splendor of Paris’s royal court, one woman must fulfill her destiny–while facing the treacherous designs of Catherine de Medici, the dark queen.
She is Ariane, the Lady of Faire Isle, one of the Cheney sisters, renowned for their mystical skills and for keeping the isle secure and prosperous. But this is a time when women of ability are deemed sorceresses, when Renaissance France is torn by ruthless political intrigues, and all are held in thrall to the sinister ambitions of Queen Catherine de Medici. Then a wounded stranger arrives on Faire Isle, bearing a secret the Dark Queen will do everything in her power to possess. The only person Ariane can turn to is the comte de Renard, a nobleman with fiery determination and a past as mysterious as his own unusual gifts.
Riveting, vibrant, and breathtaking, The Dark Queen follows Ariane and Renard as they risk everything to prevent the fulfillment of a dreadful prophecy–even if they must tempt fate and their own passions.
What I Loved: As The Dark Queen tells the story of Ariane Cheney and the comte de Renard, it reveals a tale of passion, duty, and magic. The characters are very well-developed, even the side characters who could’ve gotten away with being a little flat. Their depth only continues to increase as the story goes on.
Carroll does an excellent job of establishing the setting in Renaissance France. The reader can see every building, every chamber, every gown, and even the finer details of the candles and bowls and rings. She accomplishes this without great lengths of flowery prose, keeping The Dark Queen driven by its plot and characters.
The romance between the two main characters is sweet and compelling, pulling the reader even further into the story.
This was a book I didn’t want to finish because I was enjoying it so much, but it was also one that I couldn’t wait to finish because I was dying to see how it ended. This book is the first in a series, and I can’t wait to read the rest!
Favorite Quote: Never trust a man over your cat.
What I Didn’t Love So Much: Probably my least favorite parts of the book were the ones that showed Catherine de Medici’s side of the tale. It wasn’t that these scenes were poorly written, and in fact they served to give a detailed picture of the force Ariane Cheney is up against. But I was so intrigued by the Cheney side of the story that I didn’t want to read anything else!
Rating and Recommendation: If you’re a fan of historical fiction with a twist of magic and fantasy, you must read The Dark Queen. The whole idea of my Bookshelf Cleanout is to read the books I’ve got so I can decide which ones to keep. I think this one is a keeper! 5 stars!
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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois. She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University. Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside Detective. Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous. Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world. You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.
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