The Queen of Sinister (Dark Age, Book 2)
by Mark Chadbourn
Cover Artist: John Picacio
Review by Mel Jacob
Pyr Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781616142001
Date: 22 June 2010 List Price $16.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Mark Chadbourn's The Queen of Sinister resembles his earlier series, The Age of Misrule. After the Fall detailed in the Age of Misrule, humanity struggles with the rise of magic and demons and the destruction of modern science. The night belongs to demons and other foul creatures. The forces of good and evil fight for supremacy. The latest evil comes from a deadly plague that kills without mercy. A young doctor, Caitlin Shepherd, exhausted trying to help the local villagers, returns home to find her husband and son infected and dying. The deaths destroy her.
Somehow, she survives and her good friend, a white witch and herbalist, Mary Holden, helps her. The forces of evil have plans for Caitlin and seek to capture and kill her. A disillusioned academic, Frank Crowther, insists she come with him to the Otherworld to seek a cure for the plague. Thus, Caitlin's journey begins, but it encompasses far more than she realizes.
As the two travel, they meet with a young black girl and a speechless boy she protects. Their dangerous journey involves a continued chase by the Whispering Ones and other threats. Crowther leads them to a place of earth magic where a gate to the Otherworld lies. A young architect seeking his lost daughter joins them and prevails on Caitlin to take him along.
Once they enter the Otherworld, they find the Golden Ones splintered into those supporting humanity and those who would destroy it. They find the small inhabitants depressed in spirit. One neutral group of the Court of Soul's Ease shelters Caitlin and her party, but then plan to trade her to the Whisper Ones to get to stop their siege.
The humans flee along with a young man they found in a dungeon and continue their journey to the House of Pain to seek the cure for the plague. The Whispering Ones give chase.
Chadbourn has a deep knowledge of Celtic and English mysticism and uses it well to shape his story. He provides many twists to take the tale in a new direction and keeps his most spectacular secret until close to the end. A tendency to lecture the reader on all he considers wrong about modern society may bore some. The last title in The Dark Age trilogy, The Hounds of Avalon, follows in July.