Science fiction and fantasy
Queen of the Darkness
by Anne Bishop
This sets us up for plenty of magical battles and skulduggery, with a strong romantic thread running throughout. The villains, already weakened by events in the previous books, seem a little less threatening. The tension remains though, in part because Jaenelle is sometimes her own worst enemy, inclined to sacrifice her happiness and herself in order to protect others. It's fairly easy to work out where all of this is going, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable.
This is largely due to Anne Bishop's characters. They are a compelling mixture of likeable and dangerous, with male characters such as Daemon, Lucivar and Falonar oozing sexuality. With surprising subtlety and speed the author manages to turn simple encounters into sexual foreplay.
The matriarchal society the author has created considers men to be expendable second-class citizens, and this reversal of the usual gender stereotypes borders on misandry. This is fantasy fiction for women, but it's by no means gentle. Anne Bishop hasn't lost her talent for shocking, and there are scenes of wildly creative viciousness. It's not for the squeamish.
This is a visceral, emotional story rather than a philosophical or cerebral one. In fact the characters sometimes seem to be a little dense, because they take so long to figure out the obvious. But it is easy to believe in them and get carried away with Anne Bishop's world.
If there is a problem, it's a repetitiveness of certain descriptions and phrases. When Daemon or Saetan get mad they always talk "too softly", and those words often mean trouble for whoever they are talking to. People always swear in exactly the same way, and it can get annoying. Those niggles aside, Queen of the Darkness is a good ending to the trilogy, both sexy and moving, and it will leave readers wanting to hear more from Daemon, Jaenelle and company.
Review © Ros Jackson
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