Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Review: Twilight of a Queen, by Susan Carroll

Twilight of a Queen is the fifth book in the Dark Queen series. Catherine de Medici is dying, and she enlists a pirate named Louis Xavier to go to Faire Isle to capture Megaera, also known as the Silver Rose. After a (slight) detour to La Florida, Xavier is shipwrecked (conveniently) near Faire Isle—where he is nursed back to health by Lady Jane Danvers, an English exile.

Although I haven’t read the other four books in the series, I found it easy to get into the story. However, it takes a while to really get off the ground. I also didn’t find the historical setting very believable; Twilight of a Queen is supposed to be set in 1587 and -88, but except for the bits about the Spanish Armada, this book could take place anywhere at any time. In fact, the whole story seems like a kind of fairy tale—perhaps the author’s intention, but I didn’t really buy it. Too, time seemed suspended in a kind of vacuum.

There’s not much character development, either. As I said, this is the first book in the series that I’ve read, and so undoubtedly the characters who were introduced previously are well delineated there, but none of the characters seem well fleshed out. In addition, I kept expecting Catherine de Medici to be really, really evil—which she wasn’t here. Her powers are obviously waning in this book, but still, she didn’t really seem to have a strong presence here.

Nonetheless, this was a quick read. It’s an interesting, is somewhat predictable story. I guess it’s more of a historical romance, which wasn’t what I was expecting from this book at all—I generally like historical fiction with a bit more historical meat to it. But despite that, it would be a fun, lighthearted way to pass the time on a summer afternoon.

Also reviewed by: Popin's Lair, Tanzanite's Shelf and Stuff, Passages to the Past, Medieval Bookworm


Marie Burton said...

I agree with the predictabilty also .. and I even mentioned that those who HAVE read the series may not enjoy this conclusion. It was certainly not a thrilling read, and indeed a simple romance about Jane & Xavier. This is not what I would call Historical Fiction for those of us who enjoy the reality of history better.
I still hope to read the others soon, I think more of the thrill was with the actual Cheney sisters and their pasts.

I have my review with a giveaway as well on The Burton Review.

Mary Soderstrom said...

We read historical fiction for the story and for the window it gives us on the past, I think. I haven't read this series so I can't say whether the window the author gives us here is a good one.

But the question that always pops into my head when I read an historical novel is: would it have been more fun to read a good history of the period? At the moment I've reflecting on whether it would have been better to read Barbara Tuchman's The Proud Tower or to stay awake late last week reading A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book. Had I read the former I would have been frustrated by the constant summaries of current events of the perioid (1895-end of World War I.)



Serena said...

I had no idea that this was a series of books. I haven't read these, but I wonder how well the story is done if you notice that it takes place in a vacuum with little historical reference.

That might be a tough one for me to read.


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