The Lady of Secrets
Meg Wolfe, the Lady of Faire Isle, is far from home in the latest installment of Carroll’s long-running historical fantasy series. King James is on the English throne, and at the book’s opening he declines to pardon two accused witches, setting several revenge plots into motion. Meg finds herself summoned to court to help cure the king of a curse inflicted upon him by one of the doomed witches, and Sir Armagil Blackwood, a physician who specializes in treating the residents of London’s slums, is one of her traveling companions, along with Sir Patrick Graham, a courtier with a secret. As Meg gets to know Blackwood, she discovers the heart of gold behind the dissolute façade, and the two grow fond of each other, despite Meg’s desire to keep her distance from romantic pursuits. Meg soon realizes that there’s more afoot than a witch’s curse, and saving the king from the Gunpowder Plot may be the key to saving her own life and the life of the man she loves.
The pacing is slow in the beginning, but picks up steam as the plot against the king thickens. Part of the reason for the slow pacing could be the lack of a definitive villain. Meg mostly seems haunted by the specter of her mother, who may or may not be alive – there’s really no foil to contrast with Meg’s goodness. Carroll’s infusion of the fantastic into the historical continues to be effective, although it’s uncertain if the series will continue beyond this volume. Unlike the earlier books in the series, there aren’t many loose ends left hanging.