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.
Comment: This book first got into my radar because a Portuguese publisher translated them and they recently started to get released. I got curious and decided to try the first one, although books mostly centered in real life characters, especially the historical ones, isn't my preferred read because knowing how their lives ended or developed for real gets on my nerves if the book takes too much artistic license.
This story is exactly that, but this isn't a conventional romance and the real life characters aren't the focus of the romance so I could just hold on to my historical knowledge and enjoy the story.
This is the story of Ariane, she's the Lady of Faire Isle, apparently an island which isn't really an island because there's a small thread of land connecting the majority of the island to the continent, and all the firstborns in her family have been wise women and took on the well being of the island and their inhabitants. The island belongs to the kingdom of France and the story starts at the time Catherine of Medicis was the dowager queen and right before ST Bartholomew's Eve, known for the bloodbath between catholics and protestants until today.
Ariane's mother was a sort of friend to the queen but when she saved the queen's husband mistress, the queen got a revenge which means there's a story between them. But Ariane could be the only one to stop the queen of getting away with murder again, although the task is more difficult than Ariane expected.
This book has all the expected elements in an historical book pertaining real History facts and allusions. Then there's the imagined parts which the author thought of and from where she started her plot. I understand the way the author tried to mix the two things and how she wanted to use a myth of History, from a time where witches and witchcraft were real issues and easily believable by the people to create a fictional story where those exact elements were the key to develop the plot. It was said Catherine of Medicis had to be a witch to accomplish many of the things attributed to her and this was the starting point for the author to work with.
The plot is heavily supported by real History events but all from a fictional POV.
The main characters are Ariane and Renard, the count with a special personal story and who wants to marry Ariane. Their romance is slow to happen and I confess I wasn't very pleased with it at first because it seemed too boring and going towards a path I didn't think would be enjoyable to read. But the author proved me wrong and in the end, there were enough sweet moments to show the affection between them.
Ariane and Renard present their interesting characterization in the story but I never felt they were much past two dimensional. I guess they served a certain purpose and that was it. But the plot was more than enough to cover any flaws they might have.
The secondary characters are used in the best way to enhance the plot and what will happen and of course, to make the reader eager to read.
The plot is full of intrigue and little battles which we want out favorites to win. Many scenes powerful enough to sustain even the weakest parts of the book, such as were the scenes from the queen's POV which I thought redundant. Still, there were many chapters where I wanted to read really fast and others where I thought time would never pass by.
I have mixed feelings about this, but in the end I gave a positive grade because of the environment and the will this gave me to read Queen Margot by Dumas, a book I'll have to read before I die!
Despite everything, I think the good things surpass the more lacking ones and therefore, I will keep tis series one day, hopefully when some of my TBR is lower in size.
By the way, what a gorgeous cover that one...!