Desert Isle Keeper
Queen of the Darkness
Remember your last visit to a carnival fun house? You walked into a completely dark room, unsure of what was going to happen. Maybe something would jump out at you, or your image would be distorted with mirrors. There were mazes, riddles and wrong turns. In the end, you emerged shaken, laughing and disoriented. The outside world seemed dull and uninteresting, and you wanted to climb right back into the uncomfortable and exciting fun house once more.
Unfortunately, Queen of the Darkness ends the fun house that was Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels trilogy. But this last story allows Jaenelle, Daemon, Saetan, Lucivcar and the other inhabitants of her surreal worlds to exit in a manner befitting their dark and beautiful natures. Most trilogies trail off at the end, relying on contrivances and inconsistencies to drag down the story. This one ends with a bang.
At the beginning, Jaenelle, has just come into her full power as Witch, the ruler and figurehead around which her society revolves. But she’s still a young woman, and there are those who would like to corrupt her or use her to their own means. As the power struggle ensues between good and evil, her consort, Daemon, makes the ultimate sacrifice (to reveal what this sacrifice is would a horrible sin) to save her. Is he too late? Ah, this I can’t tell you. But to discover the answer, while curled up with Queen of the Darkness, rabidly turning pages to discover what happens next, is indescribably sweet. This isn’t just the traditional battle between good and evil, but a battle of hearts, souls and blood.
Anne Bishop has made the choice, as she has in the previous two books, to forgo explanation entirely and bring the reader directly into her world. The reader has the feeling of being taken by the hand and dragged at a bounding, running pace into the depths of the book. By now, the reader knows the characters and introduction is unnecessary. And that’s the only way to read the book. If you haven’t yet visited this dark and strange world in Daughter of the Blood or Heir to the Shadows, do so before picking up Queen of the Darkness. The three flow like one book and to read one without the others only gives you one-third of the true story.
Once again, I’ll provide the minor disclaimer that Satan and his children are the heroes and heroines of this story. There’s no way of getting around that, and if you find this distasteful, it’s best to stay away. On the other hand, if you can stomach the lord of the darkness as a single father, a besotted suitor and a shrewd businessman, you’ll discover that one of the hidden gems of this otherwise serious story is it’s tongue-in-cheek wit.
There are also a few moments of extreme violence that are necessary to the plot but hard to take. But this isn’t a sweet book and never pretends to be. It takes place in a world where hard choices have to be made, and those choices can result in death or harm. This is one case where every aspect of the writing – violence, romance action and introspection is integral to the plot and very well-written. Every word, every turn of phrase, is a near work of art.
There are comfort reads, and there are discomfort reads. Queen of the Darkness would definitely qualify as the latter. Kaeleer, the world it takes place in is wondrous, filled as it is with unicorns and magic, but it is also dark and scary. And, as you read, you’ll discover all of it – good and bad. You’ll be frightened, you’ll be enchanted, and you’ll emerge as you did from that funhouse, dazed and exhilarated.