Following on from my review of ‘Heir to the Shadows’ I will go ahead and review ‘Queen of the Darkness’ as if the reader has read the first two novels in the series.
Character growth is probably my favourite thing about ‘Queen of the Darkness’. This is the book where all the characters come together and start to form a real family. It is a joy to read about how the three main narrators – Saetan, Daemon and Lucivar – have changed from the first instalment ‘Daughter of the Blood’. Lucivar especially has grown into a man in a way that he wasn’t before (spoiler) he is now married, has a son and has his own ruling responsibilities as well (end spoiler). Jaenelle and Daemon also reunite (I don’t think that really needs to be forewarned as a spoiler) and it is really fun to read about their awkward yet cute early beginnings in their relationship. The most touching and laugh-out-loud relationship in this book for me is Saetan and Daemon – they both begin to understand what being each others mirror truly means. They are both supportive and wary of each other.
It isn’t surprising that with all this character growth and family bonding that ‘Queen of the Darkness’ also contains a lot more risk factor. The characters have a lot more to lose when the baddies start making some moves as they now not only have Jaenelle to protect they also have their new family. I think that the level of sacrifice is high but it also makes the story swerve away from the cheesiness that sometimes it goes into. Everything has a price after all, and that price is pretty extreme. Daemon and Saetan are probably the ones who make the most personal sacrifices, but also do a whole lot of other characters, many of which are characters that have played a relevant role in the earlier books.
The baddies – Hekatah and Dorothea – are still pretty bad. We don’t see the same shocking displays of evil that characterised ‘Daughter of the Blood’ but there are still hints of who they really are. I’m pretty hard to please when it comes to villains though – the only series that really satisfies me in these terms is ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’. Overall though, I think ‘Queen of the Darkness’ has its share of dark and disturbing moments – what certain characters have to do to play the nasty game highlights the standard of evil in the series, and as always some of the things included are pretty graphic.
The climax of the trilogy for me was okay. I wasn’t overly sold on it despite the fact that ‘Queen of the Darkness’ is a strong book. I think that the way the conflict was resolved was a little out of nowhere – obviously the reader wasn’t supposed to know what is about to happen, but even the way the main characters (the ones who set it up) come up with it is a bit off in my opinion. I still think that it was a decent, and logical solution, I just also thought that it smacked of a cop-out. Just a little bit. Also, it basically advertises ‘The Invisible Ring’ as an explanation of what the characters here do. I know ‘The Invisible Ring’ came out after the trilogy, but still it feels a bit like a way of getting out of really fleshing out why Jaenelle does what she does – she just simply gets inspired by characters that haven’t made an appearance in the story thus far.
After the climax the story is still good. We see the rebuilding of many things, and also see that the emotional toil of what went down is something that the characters will live with for the foreseeable future. There are some heartbreaking moments, but also a couple of happy ones that many readers have been waiting for.
‘Queen of the Darkness’ is a heartbreaking read in some respects but it is also heartwarming in others. The entire trilogy, which can be bought in an omnibus version, is something that to me is special. I bought the book on a whim, and I believe that I would have never have read it at all only I was doing the fifty book challenge that year. I was very unsure of it, because it is the type of series that is both very unique but also very hard to get an impression of based on reviews or summaries. I know that I found the book an easy read but also one with a very rich world and fascinating characters that I couldn’t help but root for. I think that the best way to recommend the trilogy, or the rest of the series for that matter, is to say that the books are cult. They do have bits that are a bit out there, but the characters and the world are always believable at their core, and the people who like these books tend to really like them perhaps because of this.