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The Dark Queen

(The Dark Queen Saga #1)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  3,193 ratings  ·  196 reviews
From Brittany's misty shores to the decadent splendor of Paris's royal court, one woman must fulfill her destiny while facing the treacherous designs of Catherine de Medici, the dark queen.

She is Ariane, the Lady of Faire Isle, one of the Cheney sisters, renowned for their mystical skills and for keeping the isle secure and prosperous. But this is a time when women of ab
Paperback, 544 pages
Published January 1st 2005 by Ballantine Books
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3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,193 ratings  ·  196 reviews

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Kat Kennedy
Jun 03, 2010 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Those interested in reading light semi-historicallyish romance uber smut
What I expected from this book:

I fairly historical account of court life surrounding Catherine de'Medici circa 1570's with a love story thrown in for good measure.

What this book is:

A romance novel based around 1570 with a lot of imaginative additions and a lot of historical subtractions.

Now it's not the book's fault that it wasn't what I wanted it to be. It can hardly rewrite itself just because I had a misconception of what the story was about.

But I still couldn't stand it, and I think if I tr
Jul 13, 2007 rated it did not like it

Books like this are the reason I'm glad I use the library and don't pay for books unless I know for a fact that they are wonderful. This one begins well enough, and reviews raved about how great it was, an awesome historical fiction, etc. I began to get suspicious when there were mentions of flashing eyes and a woman that didn't want to marry a mysterious stranger. "Huh, this sounds like a slutty romance novel. But no, other people said it was better than that..." And then I got to the part wher
Sarah Mac
Cheesy as hell, annoying martyr-type characters, a plot that should have been condensed into half the pages, & endless rah-rah-yay-women!! undertones that were as subtle as a sledgehammer through a wedding cake. In short: YAWN.
I sped through this novel, barely able to put it down, but by the end, I was a little sick of it. I was hoping it would be more historical. Or at least somewhat believable. Instead, it is a fantasy tale of witches and magic rings and potions. The romantic side was enjoyable, and the characters were very likable.
Mar 19, 2015 rated it did not like it
Ugh. If I wasn't the daughter of a librarian, I would have stopped after 50 pages. Nothing that I love more than historical fiction but when you turn it into a tawdry romance between completely average characters, no thanks. Won't be reading the rest of this series like I did with vampire academy last year, I learned my lesson!
Karin Gastreich
Sep 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
I found this on the historical fiction shelf at the book store, but don't let the marketing department fool you: The Dark Queen is fantasy romance, through and through.

This is the best kind of romance though, where the characters rise above the stereotypes to deliver a truly engaging story. Ariane is my kind of heroine: thoughtful, intelligent, courageous yet prudent. She's the archetypal Big Sister in the way she tries to shoulder the burdens of all the world, but that only makes her more symp
This book is quite fun to read pitting white magic against black magic. Catherine De Medici is cast as the Dark Queen who practices black magic. Ariane Cheny lives on Faire Island where she has been taught by her departed mother never to use black magic. She has three sisters, villagers and a mountain of debts to take care of.
The Comte De Renard wishes to marry but Ariane doesn't quite trust him. Why he wishes to marry her, the Lady Of Faire Isle with no dowry is beyond her. It makes no sense.
May 26, 2017 rated it did not like it
This book is more of a romance novel than a historical fiction. While there's nothing inherently wrong with that, the relationship in it was so ridiculously unhealthy that I couldn't stand it. Renard claims Ariane as "his" multiple times, the first instance when they don't even know each other and it is clearly against her wishes. He also kisses her a few times even after she has said no or has made it obvious that she doesn't want him to kiss her. But it's all okay because she had feelings for ...more
Lynn Spencer
Aug 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Readers in recent years have complained that the rich, interesting historicals of the past are vanishing. As a reader, I certainly have found myself buying fewer books overall as the meaty historicals I loved started to be replaced by and large with homogenized wallpaper comedies. Fortunately, there are still some good and interesting historicals out there if you look hard enough, and The Dark Queen is one of those great long sagas so many of us have been missing.

This is a partial review. You c
Aug 16, 2007 rated it liked it
Fun book, but definitely way more of a romantic fluff than I was expecting. If you're looking for something more like a political intrigue (which is what I was hoping for), this definitely isn't the book. If, however, you enjoy historical fiction with a fantastical twist, in this case witches, you'll probably enjoy this. There are times when it definitely reads like a cheap romance, but luckily the plot is interesting enough that it doesn't rely on sex scenes to keep it going. The characters are ...more
Dec 31, 2011 rated it it was ok
This book took me a long time to get into, as it clearly was much more of romance than an historical, and the romance wasn't very interesting. Carroll does a very nice job at making the Dark Queen herself an interesting and complex character. However, the hero did not start out very likeable (or particularly unlikeable either). And the heroine is rather simple in her personality--very serious and overwhelmed with her responsibilities. Each of her younger sisters get their own thread in the story ...more
Shelley Stoker
Sep 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Light historical romance fans

A fun read that's got a little bit of everything I like: romance, history, magic and mystery. I'm also a sucker for a beautiful book cover, and this entire series is full of GORGEOUS book covers.

It's about a PG-13 on romance, not nearly as dark as many reviewed it, but an adult Pagan fairytale of sorts, that's lightly steeped in history. The women in the series are all amazing - even the FICTIONAL version of The Dark Queen, Catherine De Medici herself is fascinating - and I did care about them a

Cara Erskine
A great series, mixing history, homeopathy, & magic.
Katie/Doing Dewey
May 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Title: The Dark Queen
Author: Susan Carroll
Source: library
Rating: ★★★★★
Review Summary: I wasn’t sure I liked this book at first – as a historical romance, with more sex and a more serious plot than the “chick flick” style romances I occasionally I read, it was a little outside my comfort zone. But I ended up loving it and the other four books in the series enough that I would definitely read more books like them, partly for the great plot and partly because I’m a sucker for a happy ending

Apr 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is the first in a series, surrounding the Cheney sisters of Faire Isle. The sisters are Ariane, Gabrielle and Miri, all daughters of the earth. Daughters of the earth are like good witches, white witches. Although they can delve into the dark side, the black magic, as does The Dark Queen of the title - Catherine de Medici, who was called a witch during her time, and was rumored to be a first class poisoner. The mother of the sisters, Evangaline, was a good friend of Catherine's, until they ...more
Jul 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Ariane is the Lady of the Faire Isle. She is a woman of the earth, a wise woman, a healer. Two men will change her life. And Catherine di Medici will try and destroy her.

The first man, The Comte Renard, arrogantly declares he will marry her, to the point where he has a wedding and she does not come. His past is dark and he makes a bargain with Ariane that changes her life.

The other is a man maed Remy who comes to her with poisoned gloves to try and have her prove that The Queen killed a woman. T
Lynn Abbey
Mar 22, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: readers of romantic fantasy
Recommended to Lynn by:
While this is a charming and easy-reading tale, it's pretty much pure fantasy planted atop a few bits of 16th-Century French history. And that would be fantasy in both the romantic and "magick" senses. (Something Carroll admits readily in the preface.)

Catherine d'Medici is the Dark Queen of the title but not the focus of the story, more the deux ex machina. Catherine's one of those all-purpose historic queens (Elizabeth I and Eleanor of Aquitaine also come to mind) who can be villain or saint, d
I picked this book up at my local Borders because I enjoy historical fiction (light on the history and heavy on the fiction.) This one was not exactly what I expected but it was still really enjoyable. I think if I owned a bookstore, I would place it in the romance section. It really was a historical romance. I found it to be a really fun read and now I'm on to the second book in the trilogy: The Courtesan.
Annika Paxman
Aug 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
So...I really enjoyed this book! However, (here is my disclaimer) readers beware...there is "romantic scenes" that should be skipped over, but over all I really enjoyed the way the author wrote and I thoroughly enjoyed the plot which definitely leads up to the second book in the series.
Cheap and Lazy
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Nice, long historical romance with a bit of magic. I enjoyed the author’s writing style, though her imagination is what impressed me. The dialog (inner and outer) occasionally wanders into anachronistic. But that’s a small niggle in a great romance with enough non-romance plot to satisfy me (and I’m fussy about that). The cast is fairly large, the premise somewhat complex, and the story took several dark turns (which I did not enjoy as they were vivid and heartbreaking) compared to most romances ...more
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
I have very mixed reactions to this book. On the positive side, I did basically like and could mostly relate to the main character, Ariane. She's grieving, has two sisters depending on her, and she deeply feels her responsibilities. I even, for the most part, liked the hero and the setting (I do enjoy historical settings with a bit of fantasy mixed in, at least a lot of the time).

That said, even when I could understand the reasons some of the characters did things they did, and most of the time
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
I love the idea of this society of "the Daughters of the Earth". I could not put this book down.... if you are a fan of the TV show "REIGN" you will be intrigued with this version of Queen Catherine de Medici and her court in France. I am now heavily invested in the Cheney family - I immediately ordered the next 2 books and want to hear of their future and the adventures of more Daughters of the Earth.
Lynn Pohlman
Interesting historical romance set during The Dark Queen's reign in France. Romance amidst dark magic and witch hunters. A good weekend read.
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Donna Hill
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Just enough history to keep it interesting...will read the whole series.
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Love this book and plan to read the other 2 books about the younger Cheney sisters.
Jul 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
It tells the story of three sisters, the eldest, Ariane, who has inherited the Faire Isle, struggles with her position as Lady of Faire Isle, a rather stubborn suitor that doesn't take no for an answer, two sisters who have issues of their own, a father who hasn't come back yet, and a dark threatening Queen Catherine who plots from afar.

There is enough history and politics here to keep you very intrigued. France is in religious upheaval, Queen Catherine plots from behind the scenes and of cours
Amelia, the pragmatic idealist

I gotta say--there were so many times when I expected the plot to evolve one way, and it went in a totally opposite direction. In this case, I mostly didnt mind, and I really liked the sequence of events.
- I personally think this book has a pretty decent amount of actual history. I knew that there would be references to the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, but I thought that would be the extent of it - just a reference. Those scenes were some of the best-written in the book, I think, and Carroll
Aug 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
On the one side is our beautiful heroine, Ariane, one of the famous Cheney sisters who are renowned for their mystical skills. On the other side, there is our hero, Comte de Renard, a passionate but mysterious nobleman who has fallen madly in love with Ariane and demands that she marries him. Will Ariane continue to resist Renard's overtures or will she finally call upon his assistance when she is in the gravest of dangers from the treacherous Catherine de Medici, the dark queen of France?

Jan 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
Okay I have no idea how to categorize this book! It’s set in France in 1572. It includes history from the time including the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. A big focus of the book is bringing a couple together. And the main characters are all capable of magic. So there you go! LOL! This is the first book in what I think will be a 6 book series. I picked it up because quite a few people I know have enjoyed it. There are real people in this story such as Catherine de Medici (who the author gives ...more
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Born Susan Carol Cute in 1952, Susan Coppula obtained a Degree in English with complementary studies in History in the University of Indiana. Since 1986, Susan has published books under three different pseudonyms: Susan Carroll, Susan Coppula, and Serena Richards

Other books in the series

The Dark Queen Saga (6 books)
  • The Courtesan (The Dark Queen Saga, #2)
  • The Silver Rose (The Dark Queen Saga, #3)
  • The Huntress (The Dark Queen Saga, #4)
  • Twilight of a Queen (The Dark Queen Saga, #5)
  • The Lady of Secrets (The Dark Queen Saga, #6)