I was drawn into the intrigue and drama of Princess Nefasti from the first page as she endures through the murder of the King, her father and the Queen. Stepping into the political quicksand of her Kingdom, a once famous and fabulous Kingdom, now barely hanging on to sovereignty while every Kingdom and noble circles ever closer to be the first to take over the fragile reign of this once mighty stronghold.
She finds a secret passage winding through the palace and sets of exploring, eaves dropping on her politically hungry uncles and ends up in the tower of the Court Advisor and Magician Hecatean. She finds not Hecatean but his magician apprentice and this starts a journey through her traitorous reign as newly crowned Queen at the tender age of 10. Her mother tried to whisper who can be trusted with her dying breath but the names were never uttered and now Nefasti must act on her own instinct, the snippets she picks up on her wanderings through the tunnels and by building up her own trusted network. There is Vita, the nursemaid, the Knights in charge of defending the mountain, Hecatean her father’s Court Advisor and magician, and now, her own court magician, young Josephuse.
She struggles and fights through her reign, where she discovers she is a minor inconvenience in the bigger picture. She is wooed by every surrounding Kingdom, all for political and financial gain. She is quite determined to discover who was responsible for the death of her father, but also to keep the reign as Queen. Her determination, astute observations and help of her trusted circle she assures that a legend is born, the legend of the dark lady.
This is a well written tale, full of twists and unexpected turns and I found myself holding my breath quite often. The characters are well developed rich, as is the descriptions of the country, the buildings and the old magic of Kings long forgotten.
Every chapter begins with a narration about the rumors and legends abound in the Kingdom and faraway lands about the reign of the Dark Lady and as this was obviously written after her reign it deepens the current story line as the reader can not wait to find out how this ten year old survives through murders, kidnap attempts, lies/deceit and betrayals. Will she prevail? Take the journey with Nefasti…and watch and learn
A tale well worth reading.
(I received a copy of the Dark Lady from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)