Susan Carroll has returned to the publishing world with the first book in a wonderful paranormal trilogy about three sisters who live on Faire Island. In The Dark Queen, we are taken on an exciting ride through the intrigues and dangers of the French court during the time period when Catherine de Medici ruled.
Ariane is the new Lady of the Faire Island. She’s the oldest of the Cheney sisters known throughout the countryside for their mystical powers. It’s been the benevolent rule of the Cheney females that have kept the island prosperous and strong. But it is dangerous times in France and to be known as a woman of power is to be charged with witchcraft.
Justice Deauville, comte de Renard, meets Ariane and from that moment on, he knows that she is destined to be his. Unfortunately, it's going to take more than just his say so to convince her their marriage is meant to be. After Ariane leaves him standing at the altar and the youngest Cheney sister steals his horse, Justice decides discretion is the better part of valor and yields the field, but before he goes, he gives Ariane a ring. He tells her that she may use it three times and he will come to her aide, but after the third time, she must marry him.
Ariane takes the ring, but promises herself that she will never use it. Fate must get its way and it takes a wounded stranger arriving on Faire Island to force her hand. The Dark Queen, Catherine de Medici, is working her sorcery on the people of Paris. The stranger brings the gaze of Catherine on the island and the Cheney sisters. Soon they find their lives threatened by her. Ariane has no choice but to ask Justice for help to fight the evil the Dark Queen wishes to cast on the world.
Ms. Carroll has managed to make up for her long absence by bringing us an entertaining book. Her world of Renaissance France gleams with the joy and brightness of love and hope, but she tempers the joy with the reality of the power and evilness that lurks in even the prettiest of places. The historical figure of Catherine de Medici looms over every aspect of the story and the reader knows she can only bring sorrow to the sisters. Ariane and Justice are strong complex characters who show that love makes even the most courageous person vulnerable. The pacing is even and at times will keep you on the edge of your seats. The other two sisters, Gabrielle and Miribelle, are interesting secondary characters that we will be seeing stories for in the future, I hope.
When you want a great historical read with just the right touch of the paranormal, pick up The Dark Queen by Susan Carroll and prepare to be engrossed for hours.