Igniting Darkness

HMH. (Courting Darkness Duology). Aug. 2020. 560p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780544991095.
Gr 9 Up–This sequel to Courting Darkness completes LaFevers’s retelling of the political nightmare that was 1490s France. The Regent, aided by the evil General Cassel, attempts to undermine and ultimately wrest power from her brother King Charles; however, the quick wits and dark magic of Genevieve and Sybella, daughters of Mortain (aka Death) manage to foil her efforts. Aided by their lovers Maraud and Beast, the women manage to prove Queen Anne’s innocence, put down a rebellion, and even show the monarch “the rot in his kingdom and in his and their families.” The Order of Nine—which the two sisters once served—is reinstated, and the King promises to use their skills to help keep his kingdom secure. Reimagining the true tale of Anne of Breton with women at the center, LaFevers enchants readers with the adventure, intrigue, and romance of the provincial French Court. Strong female characters manage their dangerous predicaments with intelligence and cleverness, their prowess accepted and applauded by their male counterparts. Characters, events, and unfamiliar vocabulary, (e.g., ribauldequins, menhir) from the author’s previous books are clarified in context. Fast-paced dialogue and varying viewpoints (expressed in alternating chapters) maintain the tale’s rhythm, and, despite one anachronistic line: “too strange…to wrap my brain around,” readers are immersed in a violent and unjust 15th-century world, with heroines who are determined to make it safer and more equitable for women of all strata.
VERDICT A marvelous mix of swashbuckling history and spiritually centered fantasy.

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