From reading Dreams and Shadows (Cargill’s debut novel) I went straight in to reading Queen of Dark Things as I was eager to see what had happened to Colby Stevens after the previous novel and I wasn’t disappointed.
The story picks up 6 months after the circumstances of the previous book. Colby has developed as a character and is in a dark place which then becomes even darker. The back story of Colby’s years wandering the earth to learn all about magic with Yashar are explained in more detail. As with the previous book the story is really in two parts. The first sees the younger version of Colby on walkabout with a Clever Man in the Australian outback, where he meets the future Queen of the Dark Things. The second is in the present day where Colby has to deal with the fallout from his previous adventures in Australia.
Again, the characterisation is good. The bad guys of this novel become increasingly so, the despicable Kutji wreaks havoc with the lives of others and Colby has to make deals with real life demons (in the form of the 72) and also comes up against the Queen of Dark Things herself. I was also pleased to see the return of favourite characters: Yashar, Coyote, Gossamer and Bill the Shadow.
What was good with Cargill’s previous book and continues to provide a strong writing style is to intersperse the reference chapters amongst the story so the reader can get a wider understanding of some the mystical creatures and concepts he introduces. What interested me is that, having explored the fairy world in the first book, Cargill uses the second to explore aboriginal legends and creatures. Accordingly the book is not just a continuation of the first but also an exploration of a different aspect of what has influenced Colby as a troubled wizard whilst exploring the wider world of mythology.
I recommend this book and the series to anyone, hopefully there will be a third in the pipeline and the brilliance will continue.
Joe Warren, 9.3/10
The Queen of the Dark Things is a sequel to Dreams and Shadows, following the further adventure of Colby Stevens after the events of the last book. Please note that there may be spoilers for Dreams and Shadows ahead, so please read that story before proceeding (my review can be found here).
After the final events of Dreams and Shadows Colby has lost his best friend and has been shunned by everyone except Yashar the Djinn, Bill the Shadow and Gossamer the Dog. This book gives us more information on what Colby did after he met Ewan in the Limestone Kingdom, going off into the Australian Outback to learn to control his powers under the guidance of a Clever Man. During his time in the Outback he becomes friends with a girl called Kaycee who is a dream walker. Kaycee knows she has a destiny, although she hasn’t been told what her destiny will be she knows it’s heading her way. This period of Colby’s life directly affects his present and could affect his whole future. Will he have the power to save himself or is he doomed to becoming Hell’s pawn?
This is a clever book, where we are constantly guessing whether Colby has learnt enough during his life to be more cunning than demons that have lived for thousands of years. It does seem that Colby is still learning to live with the consequences of his actions; will this mean that he has to decide between what is right for him or what is right for others? Will Colby meet people who can understand him, who are willing to become his friends even with the risk that entails, or will he chose to close himself off from anyone who get too close? It could be time for Colby to grow up and accept his responsibilities.
Although there are a lot of characters we meet from the previous book, the inhabitants of The Limestone Kingdom are not in the forefront of this book; instead they watch and wait to see what will happen next. Instead we meet the inhabitants of the Outback and learn about the concepts of Dreamtime and the importance of The Queen of The Dark Things. There are some really interesting new characters appearing and the descriptions of not only these characters but their environments are outstanding.
The Queen of The Dark Things as a book focuses on destiny: is it important, can it be broken and are other people’s destinies actually just complicit in your own? I found this a very interesting concept that compelled me to think of my own life and actions. When it comes to decisions do you do what is best for you or the best for the world around you? I cannot recommend this series enough and hope that we don’t have too long to wait for another book by C. Robert Cargill.
Michelle Herbert, 9.5/10
Christopher Robert Cargill, resident of Austin, Texas, is a novelist, film critic and screenwriter. His debut novel, Dreams & Shadows was very well received by both readers and critics and this month will see the publicat [...]
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