Sunday, December 2

Book Review: The Shadow Queen by Sandra Gulland

The Shadow QueenAuthor: Sandra Gulland
Title: The Shadow Queen
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 336
Published: January 1st 2014
Where I Got It: My shelf (Used bookstore)

1660, Paris

Claudette’s life is like an ever-revolving stage set. From an impoverished childhood wandering the French countryside with her family’s acting troupe, Claudette finally witnesses her mother's astonishing rise to stardom in Parisian theaters. Working with playwrights Corneille, Molière and Racine, Claudette’s life is culturally rich, but like all in the theatrical world at the time, she's socially scorned. 

A series of chance encounters gradually pull Claudette into the alluring orbit of Athénaïs de Montespan, mistress to Louis XIV and reigning "Shadow Queen." Needing someone to safeguard her secrets, Athénaïs offers to hire Claudette as her personal attendant. 

Enticed by the promise of riches and respectability, Claudette leaves the world of the theater only to find that court is very much like a stage, with outward shows of loyalty masking more devious intentions. This parallel is not lost on Athénaïs, who fears political enemies are plotting her ruin as young courtesans angle to take the coveted spot in the king's bed. 

Indeed, Claudette's "reputable" new position is marked by spying, illicit trysts and titanic power struggles. As Athénaïs, becomes ever more desperate to hold onto the King's favor, innocent love charms move into the realm of deadly Black Magic, and Claudette is forced to consider a move that will put her own life—and the family she loves so dearly—at risk. 

 I was drawn in by the cover and by the summary. After watching that show about Versailles and the Sun King, I was extra interested in this. It sat for a while on my shelf. Finally got around to reading this. 

The story follows Claudette who is the daughter of a famous actress. She becomes the assistant of Athenais who is the famous mistress of the Sun King. She "reigned" France alongside with the King which is abnormal but she was one of those people that shine and have a way about them that draws people in. We see all the drama through Claudette's view. 

Sighs. I am disappointed. This wasn't horrible, but it wasn't good either. It was barely decent. At one point, I had to walk away for a few days. I finally forced myself to give it a second try and at least get to 100 pages before marking it as a DNF. However, I pushed through and finished it. Yes, yes, there was A LOT of skimming, but I managed to finish it. Why? Maybe it was because I spent money on it and I had hope. 

The ending got better. However, was the journey worth it? Not really. The first 75% was SO boring. Claudette was boring. The potentially exciting bits were skimmed over. It took eons for Claudette to make it to court with Athenais and when they finally got there I felt like we didn't get to see anything really happen. Got to court and then the book ended. UGH. 

Just so boring overall. 

And darnit Claudette...if you say ZOUNDS one more time I will scream. >_>

Overall...I did enjoy-ish the last 25% of the book, but the first 75%? Ugh. The ending was decent because we got to see a smidge of the drama unfold, but it was summarized pretty quickly. I think I blame Boring Claudette and Zounding ways. Not for me sadly. I'll give it 2 stars. 


Sophia Rose said...

Ugh! That blurb makes it sounds like this book is filled to the brim with court intrigue. What a let down for you. :(

Melliane said...

Well, I think I'll pass

Blodeuedd said...

Ugh! And this did sound perfect for you. I do hate that

Carole Rae said...

Sophia, yesss but not so much.

Melliane, I do not blame you.

B, ugh me too.