The Dark Queen

The Dark Queen

by Susan Carroll

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Overview

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345437969
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/29/2005
Series: The Dark Queen Saga Series
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 377,550
Product dimensions: 6.31(w) x 7.97(h) x 1.17(d)

About the Author

Susan Carroll is an award-winning romance author whose books include The Bride Finder and its two sequels, The Night Drifter and Midnight Bride, as well as The Painted Veil, Winterbourne, The Dark Queen, The Courtesan, The Silver Rose, The Huntress, Twilight of a Queen, and The Lady of Secrets. She lives in Rock Island, Illinois.

Read an Excerpt

The Dark Queen


By Susan Carroll

Random House

Susan Carroll
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0345437969


Chapter One

The chamber lay hidden beneath the old part of the house, far from prying eyes. During Roman times, when a fortress had stood on the island, the room had been part of a catacomb of prisons, a dark place where frightened souls had been imprisoned awaiting torture and death. But that had been centuries ago.

The chains and manacles were long gone, the stone walls now lined with jars of herbs, dust-covered bottles, and books preserving knowledge forgotten by the rest of the world. The grim place had been completely transformed by feminine hands into a repository of ancient learning and a keeper of secrets. There was enough evidence stacked upon these shelves to get a woman condemned for witchcraft seven times over.

No one could have looked less like a witch than the young woman stirring the hearth's bubbling cauldron. Ariane Cheney was tall and thin, her slender form clad in a russet brown gown protected by the apron knotted round her waist.

The orange-red light of the torches imbedded in the walls flickered over her grave features; her thick chestnut hair was demurely bundled beneath a kerchief. Ariane had an unusually solemn face for a woman barely one and twenty, her pensive gray eyes seldom given to laughter, her lips rarely transformed by a smile.

She had little to smile about these days since her mother's death. Withher father still missing, that left only Ariane to protect and care for her two younger sisters. Speculation grew daily that the Chevalier Louis Cheney's grand voyage of exploration had come to disaster, that the Chevalier was either lost at sea or killed by natives on some hostile foreign shore.

Ariane gave the contents of the cauldron one final stir, then carefully ladled some of the clear liquid into a thick clay flagon. She carried it over to the long wooden worktable. The powder she had ground rested in the bottom of the iron mortar, a concoction partly gleaned from her books, partly from her own ingenuity.

Setting the flagon down, Ariane scooped out a spoonful of the powder. She hardly knew how much to use. It was a matter of guesswork. Ariane closed her eyes and sent up a silent prayer.

"Oh, please, please let this work." Opening her eyes, she carefully ladled the powder into the flagon. She watched anxiously, preparing to give the potion a stir, but she never got the chance.

The reaction was immediate and violent. The liquid began to smoke and hiss, bubble and foam. As the potion roiled over the sides of the flagon, Ariane emitted a cry of dismay. She grabbed for a cloth to check the mess, but the spitting flagon forced her to retreat.

She backed away, flinging up one arm just in time as the vessel shattered, spraying the chamber with flecks of red foam and broken pottery. An acrid haze hung over the room, a sharp stench that caused Ariane to choke and her eyes to sting with tears. She flapped her cloth to clear the air and then mopped her eyes to survey the damage.

She was not hurt, but her potion had left a scorch mark on the table and burned tiny holes in her apron. Ariane had failed.

If only Maman was here to help me, Ariane thought, The familiar ache of loss tugging at her heart. It was a wish she made a dozen times every day.

Evangeline Cheney had been a true descendent of the Daughters of the Earth, as learned in the old ways as any woman who had ever lived. She had been known as a leader among wise women, the Lady of Faire Isle, a title that had passed to Ariane, but she had never felt equal to slipping into her mother's shoes.

It had been over two years since Ariane had watched the life ebb away from the once indomitable Evangeline. Still, not a day went by that she did not miss her mother's gentle strength, the wisdom of her counsel.

Oh, Maman, Ariane thought, to be able to hear your voice again. She wondered, would it really be so dreadful, to summon her mother's spirit, just this once? She knew well what her mother's answer to that question would have been. Evangeline Cheney had taught her three daughters many marvelous things, but she had solemnly adjured them against any meddling with dark magic.

Ariane forced her attention back to the mess she had made of her workshop. She had most of the broken pottery picked up when she realized that someone was shifting the trap door that concealed the way down to the hidden chamber.

"Ariane?"

Gabrielle's voice floated down to her from the regions above. Ariane had just enough time to dump the shards of pottery into the ash bin before her sister came down the twisting stone stair with all the air of a grand duchess about to make her curtsy at the royal court.

The girl had been cutting and refitting one of her old gowns again in an effort to appear more fashionable. What had once been a sweet and simple frock had been dyed carnelian and trimmed in a rich pattern of gold embroidery. The full skirts flared out over a farthingale and opened in the front to reveal a cream-colored underskirt frothing with lace. But it was the bodice Ariane eyed with misgiving, cut too low and displaying far too much of Gabrielle's generous bosom.

As she descended the stairs, Gabrielle lifted her skirts, managing to keep the gown clear of any stray dust with one elegant twitch of her hand. Her hair was of fairest gold, her face noted for its alabaster complexion, full red lips, and jewel-blue eyes.

She was so perfectly lovely that it often made Ariane's heart ache to look at her. Perhaps because she missed the days when Gabrielle had not been quite so concerned about her appearance, when her little sister had torn about Faire Isle barefoot, her curls in a flyaway tangle, a smudge of paint on her cheek, as she had demanded a fresh canvas to work upon. Her hands had been callused, her nails broken from her latest effort at sculpting.

Now Gabrielle's hands were soft, her nails perfectly manicured. It was her eyes that seemed in danger of turning hard and brittle.

"Ah, there you are. I have been looking for you everywhere," she complained. Gabrielle rarely visited the hidden workshop and Ariane was disturbed to realize that she had not made any effort to close the concealing door above them.

"Gabrielle, I do trust that you remember this is supposed to be a secret room."

"It is not as if all our servants don't know that the room is here and that we are witches."

When Ariane frowned at her, Gabrielle rolled her eyes and amended, "Oh, pardon me, I forgot. Witches is a bad word. I should have said wise women."

"And what about any chance visitor?" Ariane demanded.

"There is no one here. Not unless you count your noble suitor."

"What! Renard is here?" Ever since Ariane had awakened that morning to discover the mist burned off the island, she had feared his return.

"Just teasing," Gabrielle grinned.

Ariane recovered her breath. "Blast you, Gabrielle. It is nothing to jest about. You know I have been dreading the comte's return."

"Ah, well, if you will persist in rescuing these stray men--"

"He was lost in the woods. All I did was point him to the right path," Ariane retorted. The first time she had met Renard was on the mainland and he hadn't seemed frightening or intimidating, only a man who had lost his way in the woods. The Deauville forest covered many acres and could be a treacherous place, full of wild boar and the occasional wolf. Ariane had simply led him back to safety.

She had fully expected that to be the end of the matter, never dreaming that the next time she saw Renard, he would coolly inform her that he had selected her to be his comtesse and he was arranging their wedding. Ariane had puzzled over Renard's actions so much, it threatened to bring a permanent crease between her eyes.

Gabrielle noticed the familiar frown gathering on Ariane's brow. "Oh, do stop worrying, Ariane. After the wedding gift we sent Monsieur le Comte--"

"The gift you sent," Ariane corrected. "You should not have done it, Gabrielle. I don't think it was wise to insult the comte."

"Pooh! Insults are the only way to be rid of a man as overbearing as Renard. I doubt he'll trouble you again."

Gabrielle's prank of the straw bride might have temporarily forestalled the comte, but Ariane feared that Renard, like the Deauvilles before him, was not a man to be easily defied.

Ariane turned to clean up the rest of the potion spattered across the table. As it cooled, it turned darker, assuming the appearance of spilled blood.

Gabrielle sashayed around Ariane, glancing down at the mess and wrinkling her nose. "What in the name of all the saints have you been doing down here?"

"Nothing of any success. I was trying to develop a potion to add to the soil and hopefully double our grain crop this year."

"I thought Maman said we should never attempt to perform black magic."

"This is science," Ariane lifted the sopping rag and tossed it into the dustbin. Gabrielle peered at the scorch mark on the table.

"It looks to me like the kind of science that destroys crops instead of growing them."

"I don't seem able to get the formula right, but I have to do something to generate more funds."

Funds that were badly needed to pay off the debts their father had left and insure that her sisters had dowries if Papa did not return. But that was not something that ever concerned Gabrielle.

She shrugged. "Why don't you try turning lead into gold instead of attempting to burn the house down?"

Ariane glared. Repenting of her teasing, Gabrielle sidled closer to wrap her arm around Ariane's shoulders and give her a light hug.

"Your fretting is going to give you permanent wrinkles. I have told you before, a woman's fortune is in her face. You would be better off trying to develop some new skin creams. I could certainly use a new perfume."

"Another perfume is the last thing you need, Gabrielle. I remember a time when you were far more interested in concocting new shades of color for your palette."


Excerpted from The Dark Queen by Susan Carroll Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Reading Group Guide

1. The Dark Queen is set in France, in 1572, where the rule of the Valois line, and the behind-the-throne power of Catherine de Medici, is threatened by religious ferment between Catholics and Protestant Huguenots. Why do you think the author chose to set her book in this place and time?

2. The novel begins with a recounting of the legend of the Daughters of the Earth, a sect of women devoted to a mother goddess whose history precedes the Catholic Church. Do you believe there is any truth to this legend? Were there really such “wise women” in Renaissance France?

3. The Daughters of the Earth make a distinction between black magic and white magic. The Catholic Church and its witch-hunting inquisitors do not agree; to them, all magic is evil. What is your opinion?

4. Catherine de Medici is presented as a villain, a Daughter of the Earth who has chosen to follow the path of black magic. But given the time and her position, not to mention the difficulties faced by any woman of talent and ambition in a male-dominated society, is she really to be condemned for utilizing every advantage in the struggle for power? Is she being held to a different standard than would apply to a man of the time?

5. How important is historical accuracy in a romance like the Dark Queen? Where do you think that the author strays from the historical record, and why?

6. Ariane Cheney inherits the title and responsibilities of the Lady of Faire Isle from her mother. Does that mean she is the wisest or the most powerful Daughter of the Earth on the island? If not, what is the significance of the title?

7. Magic involving the dead is known as necromancy and is generally viewed as the blackest of black magic. Yet Ariane employs necromancy three times in order to commune with the spirit of her mother. Doesn’t that make her evil, regardless of her intentions?

8. Is the spirit of Ariane’s mother too quick to forgive her husband for his betrayal of her with one of the Dark Queen’s Flying Squadron? And is Ariane to slow to forgive him?

9. Why is Gabrielle Cheney so suspicious of the Comte de Renard? Are her suspicions justified in any way?

10. How did Gabrielle lose her powers? Do you believe her powers are truly gone, or is she psychologically blocked from using them

11. What abilities set Miri apart from her older sisters?

12. Do you think the portrayal of the Inquisition in The Dark Queen is a fair and accurate one?

13. What evidence is there in the novel that the religious beliefs of the Daughters of the Earth are valid? Is there any evidence in the novel for the validity of the religious beliefs of Catholics and Protestants? On the whole, where do you think the author’s sympathies lie?

14. What initially draws Justice Deauville, the Comte de Renard, to Ariane?

15. If you were a woman pursued by Renard in the manner that he pursues Ariane, how would you react?

16. What is the magic of the rings worn by Ariane and Renard? Are the rings black magic?

17. How are Melusine and Catherine de Medici alike? In what ways are they different? Which did you find a more sympathetic character, and why?

18. There are many traditional fairy tale motifs in this romance. How many can you identify? How has the author adapted them to her story?

Customer Reviews

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Dark Queen 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 86 reviews.
Cappi More than 1 year ago
I am a huge fan of historical fiction, so I kind of knew what to expect...colorful imagery, handsome men, and an astromoical castrophy. Knowing all of that, this book wowed me. It had everything a good book should have, love,sex,despair,action,believable dialog. When you finish a book and are sad that it is over, that is the sign of a great book. I literally started back at page 1 after finishing the last page.
Sensitivemuse More than 1 year ago
It tells the story of three sisters, the eldest, Ariane, who has inherited the Faire Isle, struggles with her position as Lady of Faire Isle, a rather stubborn suitor that doesn't take no for an answer, two sisters who have issues of their own, a father who hasn't come back yet, and a dark threatening Queen Catherine who plots from afar. There is enough history and politics here to keep you very intrigued. France is in religious upheaval, Queen Catherine plots from behind the scenes and of course, you have witch hunters. At first, I was a little skeptical as the book certainly starts off looking like a bodice ripping romance novel. Guy wants girl, girl can't stand him, guy gets persistent..yeah you get the usual romance plot idea. However Susan Carroll adds a good amount of magic (magic being more of a wise woman sense not your fantastical kind..well sort of) and political plotting to keep you distracted enough to give the book a fair chance if you're not a romance novel fan (like I am). There is a good amount of everything here in this book. Romance, action, fantasy, intrigue, and drama. I wouldn't say there is much fantasy in it. Although the younger sister does talk to animals so I suppose you could say that's fantasy wouldn't you? In any case, there is enough of all the genres mentioned previously to keep you satisfied. Renard and Ariane are a couple that just "look" good together. I think it's their personalities that make them both suit each other so well that you can't help but just read on and hope they'll work out their differences for that lovely happy ending. Each of the Cheney sisters have a romantic involvement, however that's as far as I'll go without going too much into detail. It's Gabrielle I feel for the most though. As she went through a lot as explained in the beginning of the story. There is an explicit scene or two (romance wise) but nothing to really be bothered about it. Action wise, I don't really see too many gory details but I have to admit the mysogyny displayed in Le Vis just makes you want to wring his neck until it breaks like a chicken. However I'm sure the sort of behavior displayed by the witch hunter is probably very real and frightening and it makes you learn how much people went through just because they were perceived as different. There will be other books following after this and I will be picking them up. There are some unanswered questions I would like answered! I will definitely be reading the second book (The Courtesan) which will be featuring Gabrielle's story. This is a book to pick up if you're wanting a book with a little bit of everything but if you're a romance lover yes, grab it. Renard and Ariane are perfect.
AnetteTepesDracula More than 1 year ago
I first found this book on Amazon and was charmed by the character of Renard who was delightfully stubborn, pigheaded, and downright seductive. He was very entertaining and how he and Ariane Cheney (the heroine) interacted with each other was hilarious at times due to how he frustrated her so much by constantly dogging her to marry him. I personally loved the take on witches that Mrs. Carroll took. The "Daughters of the Earth" were the modern sense of witches and pagans: kind, righteous, and virtuous women young and old. I personally can't wait to read the next book and I hope that the series continues strong.
DGPerez More than 1 year ago
This story is a great combination of romance, history, and thrill. The characters are well developed and the plot is intriguing. Somehow the story seems to fit quite well into that point in history. This book is found in the Literature section, but I find it to be more of a romance novel with a higher emphasis to history than strictly to the relationships. All in all, I liked it enough to read the rest of the series.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was an excellent read. It was very romantic but in a strange quirky kind of way. it was very good though and i cant wait to read the other 2 books in the Trilogy, the Courtesean and the Rose Without a Thorn.
ReaderMarie More than 1 year ago
This book read like a fairy tale to me. I loved the romance between Ariane and Renard. Great plot twists and history.
Sapph0 More than 1 year ago
I read this book once before, but too long to not read it again before going through the whole trilogy, and it is just as wonderful--if not more so--as the first time. To center around Ariane and her three sisters, Susan Carroll weaves a very realistic portrait of family life and the behavioral ethics of each of them considering the way their family stands at the moment the story takes place, and the circumstances they have been through. Catherine de Medici, as seen here, is an incredibly enigmatic (despite who she is in the book) individual, interesting to browse upon as one goes through the motions of the book, and engaging. The Dark Queen certainly makes the whole work all the more worthy of being read--for despite the other characters being fantastic, and the book itself being able to survive without the dowager queen of France, she makes the entire thing even better. Renard is magnificent, and his interactions with Touissant are endearing and touching in contrast to the passionate (though quietly at first) and spell-binding (truly, to me) undertakings had with Ariane. Seeing the ways of Gabrielle and Remy in this first book, it paves the way perfectly for the second installment (which I'm currently reading) in the series. This is certainly a book worth reading not once, but twice!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Dark Queen is the first novel in the Dark Queen Trilogy which follows the adventures of the Cheney sisters as they battle Queen Catherine de Medici of France. In this first novel Ariane Cheney has become the new Lady of Faire Isle after the death of her mother. All of the Cheney women are wise women or wicthes, but Ariane will only use her power to heal. It is in her position as a healer that will bring on the wrath of the Dark Queen when an injured furgitive comes to Faire Isle and ask for her help. At the same time Ariane is being persued by a determined suitor who is hiding secrets of his own. The Dark Queen is filled with suspence and intrigue from the first page.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was really a wonderful book! At times it may seem a bit dark, but it's really not a book like that. It's all around great!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The story line and characters were phenominal! But I will admit that in the beginning I thought that that magic aspect was going to ruin the novel but once I got into it, it only made the story better. I couldn't put it down. I read it in 2 1/2 days and went straight onto The Courtesan.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Dark Queen, written by Susan Carroll, tells of a destined love between the Lady of Faire Isle and the Comte de Renard. With everything inbetween from witch hunters to romance, Carroll gives you just enough to make you smile, or grasp onto the edge of your seat, but all the while she leaves you craving for more. This story was told beautifully- the organization and unfolding was delightful. I WANT MORE!!!...and then some...
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I felt a conection with each of the characters. I fell in love with Justice (Renard). I read it to sleep. I read the book till it fell upart from wear and tare. It is the best book I have ever read. I did not want it to end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a major reader and I'm always looking for new books and authors. When I was walking by a shelf at mt local bookstore the cover caught my attention. Usually, I have found, books with flashy covers content is less than satisfactory, but I decide to give it a try. And I an whole heartedly glad I did. The lush backround and well written characters (Renard, Miri, Gabrielle, Remy, and Ariane herself)give the book a realistic quality that draws you into it and in the end you find that you are attached to the book and the characters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Usually I enjoy more accurate historical fiction. Yet I have read everything I can get my hands on by this author. She adds a mystical touch to her writing which makes is very hard to put down. I can't wait for the Silver Rose!
sensitivemuse on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It tells the story of three sisters, the eldest, Ariane, who has inherited the Faire Isle, struggles with her position as Lady of Faire Isle, a rather stubborn suitor that doesn't take no for an answer, two sisters who have issues of their own, a father who hasn't come back yet, and a dark threatening Queen Catherine who plots from afar. There is enough history and politics here to keep you very intrigued. France is in religious upheaval, Queen Catherine plots from behind the scenes and of course, you have witch hunters. At first, I was a little skeptical as the book certainly starts off looking like a bodice ripping romance novel. Guy wants girl, girl can't stand him, guy gets persistent..yeah you get the usual romance plot idea. However Susan Carroll adds a good amount of magic (magic being more of a wise woman sense not your fantastical kind..well sort of) and political plotting to keep you distracted enough to give the book a fair chance if you're not a romance novel fan (like I am). There is a good amount of everything here in this book. Romance, action, fantasy, intrigue, and drama. I wouldn't say there is much fantasy in it. Although the younger sister does talk to animals so I suppose you could say that's fantasy wouldn't you? In any case, there is enough of all the genres mentioned previously to keep you satisfied. Renard and Ariane are a couple that just "look" good together. I think it's their personalities that make them both suit each other so well that you can't help but just read on and hope they'll work out their differences for that lovely happy ending. Each of the Cheney sisters have a romantic involvement, however that's as far as I'll go without going too much into detail. It's Gabrielle I feel for the most though. As she went through a lot as explained in the beginning of the story.There is an explicit scene or two (romance wise) but nothing to really be bothered about it. Action wise, I don't really see too many gory details but I have to admit the mysogyny displayed in Le Vis just makes you want to wring his neck until it breaks like a chicken. However I'm sure the sort of behavior displayed by the witch hunter is probably very real and frightening and it makes you learn how much people went through just because they were perceived as different. There will be other books following after this and I will be picking them up. There are some unanswered questions I would like answered!I will definitely be reading the second book (The Courtesan) which will be featuring Gabrielle's story. This is a book to pick up if you're wanting a book with a little bit of everything but if you're a romance lover yes, grab it. Renard and Ariane are perfect.
susanbevans on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I picked this book up at my local Borders because I enjoy historical fiction (light on the history and heavy on the fiction.) This one was not exactly what I expected but it was still really enjoyable. I think if I owned a bookstore, I would place it in the romance section. It really was a historical romance. I found it to be a really fun read and now I'm on to the second book in the trilogy: The Courtesan.
reneebooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Dark Queen is set in Renaissance France in 1572 on the eve of 'Bloody Sunday', the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre and is the first book of a trilogy. Ariane, Gabrielle, and Mirabelle de Cheney are three sisters of Faire Isle who are 'Daughters of the Earth' with special abilities in healing and white magic. The eldest, Ariane, is known as The Lady of Faire Isle and is considered a 'wise woman' by the people of the island. This is a very dangerous time for them as an evil witch hunter is terrorizing women with their special gifts and accusing them of witchcraft.The comte de Renard is arrogantly determined to marry Ariane, but she wants nothing to do with him. She senses that he is hiding dark secrets. He blackmails her into wearing a magic ring that she can use to summon him. Little by little we learn of his past and his character growth was well done and I grew to like him immensely. Ariane seemed a bit timid at first but her serenity and quiet strength make her a good match for Renard.When a wounded stranger arrives on Faire Island with evidence against the evil Queen of France, Catherine de Medici, Ariane must call upon Renard to protect her family. The Dark Queen essentially rules France through her weak son. She is rumored to be a witch and practices black magic to destroy her enemies to retain her power. I found her wickedness a little overdone but fascinating. The secondary plots with Gabrielle and Remy, as well as young Mirabelle and Simon were very fully developed and compelling .The characters are very well drawn and though not deep, the plot was entertaining. Her prose flows smoothly and I finished it quickly considering it was over 500 pages :). The Dark Queen expertly meshes together romance, history, royal intrigue, religious persecution, magic and witchcraft into a very readable book I am looking forward to the next book, The Courtesan, Gabrielle's story. Mirabelle's story is titled The Silver Rose and will be released in March, 2006. (Grade: B+)
lollypop917 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was an easy summer read and a good break from the more detailed historical fiction I have been reading lately. This book is loosely based on events surrounding St Bartholomew's massacre in France during the period of Catherine de Medici. Notice that I say loosely as it has elements of fantasy woven in. The story follows the lives of the three Chaney sisters who are known to be women of the earth, or witches. This book deals primarily with the oldest sister Ariane but also introduces the other sisters Miri and Gabrielle. I would consider this more of a historical romance and enjoyed it for what it was. I heartily recommend to anyone who likes historical fiction light on the history and heavy on the romance.
Ameliaiif on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I gotta say--there were so many times when I expected the plot to evolve one way, and it went in a totally opposite direction. In this case, I mostly didnt mind, and I really liked the sequence of events! - I personally think this book has a pretty decent amount of actual history. I knew that there would be references to the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, but I thought that would be the extent of it: just a reference. Those scenes were some of the best-written in the book, I think, and Carroll did a good job capturing the intensity of the situation. Now of course, most of Catherine de Medici's character is mere speculation. A great many people probably did consider her a witch, but here she definitely is one...if you're somebody who likes for historical figures to not be messed with, you might not be too thrilled with her presentation in this story. I was a bit surprised with how large of a role she played in the book: even though the title is a reference to her, I was thinking (from what I had read on some other reviews) that she'd mostly be a background character; I was very much surprised with the level of development given to her. Of course, I think it's always a tricky situation when an author makes a fictional statement/draws a fictional portrayal of a real-life character---in this case, making the "Italian woman" into the vindictive villain. It worked, though. I totally believed (to the best of my history-major ability) that she was indeed a bitchy witch. :D - And now on to the main characters: for the most part, I really liked the story development between Ariane and the Comte. It was not what I expected, but I still enjoyed it...even the more "turn-your-cheeks-red" passages ;P - The only complaint I have is the (in my opinion) OVER-development of the supporting characters, especially the two other sisters. I know that Gabrielle and Miri each have their own specific sequel in this "series," but I expected this book to establish the basics about them and then have them function as secondary elements to the main characters. There were many instances when I skipped over their scenes: I don't care about Gabrielle and her stupid backstory and her relationship with the captain! That's book 2! All in all: a highly enjoyable read: historical FICTION romance done right :D PS--i probably should acknowledge that this is, ummm, NOT for young people. hahhaha. oh my goodness. susan carroll can certainly write a good "kissing scene," but she can also write other scenes as well! (wink wink nudge nudge). i must be really, REALLY immature, because there were times when i just burst out laughing. they're not badly written--not by a long shot!--but still...i thought they were entertaining. :D
nellista on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first in a series, surrounding the Cheney sisters of Faire Isle. The sisters are Ariane, Gabrielle and Miri, all daughters of the earth. Daughters of the earth are like good witches, white witches. Although they can delve into the dark side, the black magic, as does The Dark Queen of the title - Catherine de Medici, who was called a witch during her time, and was rumored to be a first class poisoner. The mother of the sisters, Evangaline, was a good friend of Catherine's, until they had a falling out. Evangaline was called the Lady of Faire Isle and was designated the leader of the daughters of the earth, and was well respected and loved in her community. Now that she is dead, her eldest daughter Ariane has taken on the mantle of the Lady of Faire Isle - not that she thinks that she is up to it! Ariane is being doggedly wooed by Renard, a Count from the neighbouring lands, who has his own murky background. Witch-hunters, magical talismans, and mystery are woven into the story, which encompasses the massacre of the Protestants on St Bartholemew's Eve.I generally read straight historical fiction and am not much into fantasy elements, but I thoroughly enjoyed this, and I will definately be reading the rest of the series.
arenstro22 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First of triliogy; Set back in 1700s, three sisters have to find their witch powers within themselves, use it for good against bitter enemy, finding love along the way.
lina_em on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
the brute of a man and the fairy-like leader. this is a timeless love story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very few of the books that I would highly recommend or gkive all 5/5 stars, a diamond in the rough, a definate page turner that will leave you wishing all books were this intricatly woven with a twist that will leave you gaping & feeling as if you are the actual character herself. AMAZING book, go get it or borrow it from me!