Twilight of a Queen

Written by Susan Carroll
Review by Nanette Donohue

The titular queen in the fifth novel in Carroll’s 16th-century saga is Catherine de Medici, dowager queen of France, whose influence and health are fading rapidly. When a sailor with paranormal abilities offers to embark on a voyage to bring Catherine the mythical Book of Shadows, a rare text full of dark magical spells, Catherine agrees to fund him. Catherine, however, is unaware that her ”necromancer” is Louis Xavier Cheney, half-brother of Catherine’s enemies, the Cheney sisters of Faire Isle. Xavier has troubles of his own—he has never forgiven his father for abandoning him. When Xavier shipwrecks off the coast of Faire Isle, he is forced to come to terms with his past and with his family history, and he meets a woman—British exile Jane Danvers—who helps him heal physically and emotionally. No man has ever crossed the Dark Queen and survived, but as Xavier grows closer to his sisters, he realizes that delivering the Book of Shadows to Catherine de Medici is not an option. But can Xavier evade her grasp without jeopardizing his sisters and their families?

Twilight of a Queen features the same blend of historical romance, magic, and women’s friendships as the other books in the Dark Queen series. Though it stands alone effectively, readers familiar with the earlier books may have a more rewarding experience, since a number of characters make appearances in Twilight of a Queen, including Ariane Cheney, the Lady of Faire Isle. Xavier’s story provides a dose of seafaring adventure, and Catherine’s ongoing political machinations are as intriguing as ever. The story wraps up neatly, and though this is likely the final book in the saga, the ending is just open enough to allow for another sequel.