The Shadow Queen

by Anne Bishop

3.5 Star Review

Two Thinly Connected Short Stories Do Not a Fantastic Novel Make

The Shadow Queen by Anne Bishop

Reviewed:   October 19, 2009

Genre:   Fantasy

Series:   Black Jewels, Book 7

Rating:   3.5  Stars

Length:   429 Pages

Formats:   Print, eBook

What I Thought...

I can't begin to add any commentary or review on The Shadow Queen without first mentioning that in all my many years as a reader and all the thousands of books I've read, whenever I think of my favorite reading experience, The Black Jewels trilogy (Daughter of the Blood (Black Jewels, Book 1), Heir to the Shadows (Black Jewels, Book 2), and Queen of the Darkness (The Black Jewels Trilogy, Book 3)) is what I think of. I'm not saying those three books were the best ever written - fantasy isn't my favorite genre, so there are some inherent issues I have to begin with, and there were things in each individual book that I wasn't crazy about - but as a whole, the reading experience of the Black Jewels trilogy is the pinnacle of reading enjoyment for me (though I'm always looking for more). There was something about the way those books, read together, wove characters and plot, worlds and wars, evil and redemption, power and weakness, that struck such an awed chord in me - with attention to detail, ingenuity, phenomenal creativity, and indescribable depth - that as yet has been unmatched.

Even by Bishop herself, and especially including The Shadow Queen.

I enjoyed the story of Jaenelle and Daemon...and I'm truly interested in the evolution of their relationship, given Daemon's exceptionally devastating and at times crippling history as The Sadist, and Jaenelle, with the haunting aspects of Witch and the undefined scope of her true latent power.

I more than enjoyed the characters of Lady Cassidy and Gray, and actually loved seeing the hesitant maturation of a queen who is coming into her own. I detested Theran, finding little redeemable in him at all, and I was a wee bit squigged out by Cassidy's relationship with Gray when he's still sort of child-like, but I'm willing to put my feelings aside on that for now in the hopes of seeing more of Gray's personal development in the next book. I'm also willing to give Theran a chance to evolve.

I always love seeing the ties that bind - Saetan, Daemon, Lucivar - three males that will always draw my attention whenever they're on page together.

Unfortunately, the two threads - Daemon and Jaenelle/Cassidy and Dena Nehele - were discordant and disparate, failing to blend together and enhance each other, as the multiple plot lines and character focuses in the Black Jewels trilogy always did. And that is where The Shadow Queen falters as a complete novel. Two essentially short stories with solid separate plots and a thin thread of connection...that should have either remained separate or been blended a little more seamlessly.

3.5 stars for The Shadow Queen. I'll be looking forward to more of Lady Cassidy and her reign, and I'll be eternally thirsty for more of the magic of the original Black Jewels trilogy.

Happy Reading! ~ Tracy

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