Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “I wasn’t going to die. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not at the Sangre Duello at all. I had to stay alive. For my friends.”
Dark Queen picks up where Cold Reign left off. Jane Yellowrock has done everything she can to prepare for this moment; the Sangre Duello (blood duel) between Leo Pellister (Master of New Orleans) and Titus Flavius Vespasianus (Emperor of the European Mithrans). With her new family and all of New Orleans at risk, they MUST win because the consequences of losing will be devastating.
“My Jane. You sit in the dark. Do you grieve when no death has yet occurred?”
“People I love will die in the next night or two. People you love.”
“War is always hard. Death is inevitable, even for Mithrans.”
“I love how you comfort me.”
“There is no comfort in war, my Jane. Nor in death.”
**I want to note right off the bat that as of a year ago this book was supposed to be the end of the series. Hunter renegotiated to include two more books but this one was already in edits so some aspects of it may read oddly forbidding and final.**
The Jane Yellowrock series remains one of my favorite Urban Fantasy’s to date with its energetic action-packed scenes, strong emotional tone, unexpected humor, and bold characters who dance to their own beat. Heavily character driven, the story is told from Jane’s POV; a Cherokee skinwalker with a traumatic past and a fatalist nature who has gradually learned that even she deserves a happy ever after. Her gradual evolution from a feared vampire killing loner with little social skills and even less trust to a highly respected woman with a family, friends, and a lover has been quite a journey. Toss in her connection with her big cat, Beast, and it becomes an amusing and somewhat bittersweet adventure.
This review will be rather short and sweet because there is a lot happening and it’s really one huge spoiler (remember, this was originally written to be the end). I liken it to the Avengers Infinity War movie. If you’ve seen it, then you know what I mean. THINGS. HAPPEN. IN. HERE. Some will have you cheering, others yelling, and some will leave you in tears. Just remember, like the Avengers movie, there is more to come.
The well-plotted storyline is saturated with multiple storylines from the past as Hunter brings them all to the surface to close them out and prepare us for a new arc while ending this long-running one. I feel as if there were two parts to this book-the before the duel and the duel. Before the duel deals mainly with Jane and is extremely verbose and retrospective. Jane receives some startling and life-changing news that leaves her reeling most of the book. It drags her into the past and she reveals some new information about her past. We also see her reflecting on the choices she made in the past and how this is affecting her immortal soul. She holds quietly onto her religion and fears how she will be judged in the end.
“I have to take care of the people I love. That means…That means I have to become the monster.”
“Have you not always been a monster, my master?”
New characters are introduced with some recklessness while old favorites play pivotal roles. Nothing is what it seems and Hunter shows no favoritism as everyone stands before the chopping block. Eli and Alex remain my FAVORITE boys and are no longer employees but Jane’s brothers and like brothers, they have her back in everything. They have always accepted her as she is and that has been a healing balm Jane has needed for years. Edmund, Jane’s primo, also accepts Jane and guides her through vampire politics with affection and a firm hand. Bruiser and Jane have reached the point where insecurity is no longer a silent spectator. Jane accepts Bruiser’s love for her and he more then proves that in here.
“I have searched for you all of my life.”
Even Leo shows his softer side as he has his own preparations to undergo. He and Jane have had a long and contentious relationship punctuated by love and hate. I like that he remained true to form though he admits he too has evolved in all the years he and Jane have known each other.
“You honor me. Honor, I do not deserve in the human understanding of the term, for I have harmed you. My Jane, my Enforcer. My Dark Queen.”
Some new characters were definitely chosen to be disposable and I’m not 100 percent sure why. There was no real need for them as they did nothing for the conflict or the arc.
The second part-The Duel-puts us into fight mode. There are some mundane issues that deal with the housing and food logistics of so many people and Hunter decides to clue us into all that is happening behind the scenes. While this is what we have all been waiting for, it is very linear. Hunter presents everything in a very matter of fact tone. Beast definitely takes on a larger role and gives us plenty of clues as to what’s to come. Multiple fight scenes decorate this half though they aren’t drawn out. The ending is unexpected and quite shocking with Jane in the forefront in all her arse kicking, Beast shifting ,weapon welding glory.
Dark Queen was what I wanted but not what I expected and it worked for me. Despite some minor issues, Hunter takes some serious risks in here as she propels her series to a new level while preparing us for the end. A minor cliffhanger leaves you on edge but not rightfully so. I can’t wait for book thirteen though at least I have the next Soulwood to read while waiting; title and date of release to be announced.
***Be sure to check out the blog tour post for a chance to win a complete set of Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series. ***