17 Jul
Posted in: Book Reviews
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Book Review: “The Shadow Queen” by Sandra Gulland

The Shadow QueenReviewed by Bev Scott

Again, Sandra Gulland plunges us into the rich history of France, this time in the 17th Century.  Based on the true story of Claudette, a young woman who wanders the French countryside with her family’s acting troupe, Gulland introduces us to the socially outcast life of the theatre.  Claudette is a responsible caretaker who dutifully cares for her developmentally disabled brother and supports her widowed mother who rises to stardom in the theatre.  By chance, she is offered the opportunity to become the personal assistant to Athenaiis, mistress of the King with the allure of respectability, money and glittering gowns and jewels.  But, it means that she must risk leaving her brother and mother who depend on her both emotionally and physically.

Claudette loyally supports Athenaiis and dutifully carries out her demands including servicing the King and procuring remedies and potions to ensure Athenaiis’s position  as the shadow queen. The story becomes even more compelling as Claudette becomes disillusioned with the spying, power struggles, and the use of black magic.

The pace of the book is energetic and I was never bored, although occasionally the jumps in time or place left me feeling I had missed a transition.  The title is a bit misleading as the protagonist is really Claudette not Athenaiis who is the Shadow Queen.  However, The Shadow Queen is a magnificent story, with realistic characters of  depth and nuance and Gulland’s historical mastery takes you on a journey to an intriguing past.

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So, what do you think?

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