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Queen of the Dark Things
by C. Robert Cargill
Harper Voyager; $26.99; 432pp
Publication Date: May 13, 2014
I think Cargill is an excellent writer. He has interesting frequently paranormal characters, he sets them in an alternate Austin , Texas and his descriptive ability is distinct. I really enjoyed his first book “Dreams and Shadows.”

I’m afraid this novel, for me however, was a bit of a mish-mash, even though it (as did the first book) deals with dreams, wishes, and the consequences of power.

Its starts off with a chapter set in 1629 and the mutiny of several men on a Dutch East India Ship and their terrible punishment on a deserted island in the Indian Ocean .

Then we return to present-day Austin , with Colby Stevens, the hero of the previous novel and he’s really missing his friend Ewan whom he saved in “Dreams and Shadows.” He gets approached to get rid of La Llorona, the spirit of a woman who killed her children in the river ages ago and who is currently haunting a woman (who also has children).

Colby takes care of the spirit and dispatches her to haunt the river no more.

Well, the Spirit of Austin, the elemental/fae being who is in charge of Austin , feels he has quite overstepped his bounds…and this event sets the ball rolling for the rest of the novel. (And Colby is quite attracted to Austin as the elemental is named for her city).

We get a flashback to Australia , when Colby was a boy on his amazing journey with Yashar the djinn that showed him the supernatural world and where Colby acquired the skills to become a powerful wizard.

This time we meet Mandu, a Clever Man, who teaches Colby about the song lines and walkabouts, etc. in Arnhem Land in Australia .

It’s fascinating, but we are there for several chapters, with a brief return to Austin , then several more chapters in the outback and a quick visit to the Limestone Kingdom (the land of the fae just outside Austin ) and finally, we get a lot about the Seventy-Two: demons/ fallen angels and King Solomon’s Ring. We are all over the map—almost literally.

I didn’t know what story he was really telling me. It started off, I thought about remorse about the loss of Ewan and then we get this flashback to his childhood in Australia where he meets a powerful little girl who can walk the dreamtime and then there’s a butt-load of demons and the denizens of hell---oh and the kutji weird horrible shadow creatures and the Queen of Dark Things who is someone Colby once knew.

There’s a big battle and Colby shows us all just how clever he is in handling and out-thinking wily old demons.

Hopefully, this story will work for others, but I just felt….confused about the journey Cargill had taken me on and its conclusion.

But it was certainly populated with interesting characters. ~~ Sue Martin

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