Warning: Cliffhanger (Kill me).
Massive Warning: deals with multiple instances of rape (both adult and of a minor)
Another warning: lots of sex themes, not all wholesome
In the first novel in New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop’s beloved Black Jewels Trilogy, a race of witches and warlocks whose power is channeled through magical jewels will meet their once and future queen…
Seven hundred years ago, a Black Widow witch saw an ancient prophecy come to life in her web of dreams and visions. Now the Dark Kingdom readies itself for the arrival of its Queen, a Witch who will wield more power than even the High Lord of Hell himself. But she is still young, still open to influence—and corruption.
Whoever controls the Queen controls the darkness. Three men—sworn enemies—know this. And they know the power that hides behind the blue eyes of an innocent young girl. And so begins a ruthless game of politics and intrigue, magic and betrayal, where the weapons are hate and love—and the prize could be terrible beyond imagining…
“We are what we are. Nothing more, nothing less. There is good and evil among every kind of people. It’s the evil among us who rule now.”
Holy shit. What a book. I can’t believe I procrastinated reading this series so long. This book was amazing. This book had it all. I was terrified for the main character, Jaenelle. I was disgusted at what was going on. Yet deep down, it was so unbelievably cute it hurt my heart. I laughed like crazy at scenes before going back to worrying about what would happen at the end. There would be times I had to put it down lest my heart not be able to take another moment of fear.
The plot centers around a young girl named Jaenelle, who everyone is determined to either kill, use, or protect, and the protectors she has gathered around herself. It is about a girl who has had life fling shit at her, but she perseveres. Not only perseveres, but thrives on the kindness she has been able to seek out for herself. It is about a world determined to snuff out everything good about this young girl.
While I loved this book, that doesn’t mean it was without its flaws. One of the premises of the book is that a female could be ruined if she didn’t have sex in the right way the first time. In addition to that, the power lines are extremely matriarchal in nature, and it comes across as a little preachy. Plus there is a magic cockring of obedience that shoots pain if the master wishes it to. The names are also a sore spot. Saetan for Satan who rules over Hell, Daemon for Demon and Lucivar for Lucifer, who are Saetan’s son, all of which have the last name SaDiablo. There is a list of names that I did not care for, such as Surreal and Hekatah. I’m sure there will be more after this.
It can be a bit difficult at times to understand the world-building. I wasn’t certain at first if the different realms were on the same world, or if they were interconnected in another way. I can overlook this though, because over time throughout this specific book, Bishop does get better at it. There are people, and they all look different and have different attributes (like wings..). I think Bishop was trying to balance info dumps with plot, and it left for some confusing moments as I got into the world.
There are a lot of themes on sex in this book. There is the obedience of a slave to do what they are told. There is controlling people through sex. There is sex in order to assassinate someone. There is plain old prostitution. There is the rape with the specific goal to ruin someone with it. There is child rape in addition to adult rape, both male and female. This book is not for the faint of heart by any means.
Despite the problems with this book, I still absolutely loved it. I loved how the author explored all the various themes on sex. I loved how she explored the love the characters had for Jaenelle. How they felt about feelings they should not be having. I love how sweet the love of a child could be and how it is portrayed here. I love how Bishop shows that family isn’t always what you are born to, but what you make.
If you are okay with reading a dark fantasy series, in which bad things can and will happen, check this out. It is capable of driving the reader towards fear for the future, disgust at what is happening on screen, while contrasting it with some of the cutest scenes I have ever read.
Guys, I really enjoyed reading this one.
To read more reviews for this series, check out the The Black Jewels series page!