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The Silver Rose    by Susan Carroll order for
Silver Rose
by Susan Carroll
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2006 (2006)

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* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Susan Carroll concludes her marvelous Cheney Sisters trilogy, coming full circle by taking readers back to the magical Faire Isle. With her older sisters and their husbands banished from their home, Miribelle Cheney lives a lonely and secluded existence in the deep woods with only her beloved animals as companions. On rare occasions, she ventures into the village. It's there she learns that a new power threatens the dreaded Dark Queen, Catherine de Medici. The Silver Rose, said to control even darker magic than Catherine, has sent her minions to spread fear across the land. Sacrificing male infants increases her power. Miri is shocked by this news and does all she can to quell the fear running rampant in her village.

Simon Aristide is being hunted by the Silver Rose. After the most recent attempt on his life he realizes that he cannot rid France of this latest outbreak of black magic without special help. When he arrives on Faire Isle, Miri wants nothing to do with the witch hunter whose repeated betrayals broke her heart and cast her family into exile. Even so, she senses that Simon has changed. She no longer sees a man harboring a rabid fanaticism against anything that smacks of magic. Instead, Simon has become world weary and bitter and is following his own path to self destruction. Miri knows this is her last chance to cast him out of her life. But her heart tells her she cannot abandon him to face his demons alone. Going against everything she and her family believe, Miri agrees to travel to Paris and help Simon locate and destroy the Silver Rose.

Susan Carroll presents another fine story in The Silver Rose. Her lush writing style, and the vibrant historical detail that she embellishes with political intrigue and magic, are unsurpassed. A number of secondary characters introduced in previous episodes are back for wonderful encores - including the incorrigible Martin Le Loup and the power hungry and sinister Catherine de Medici. Unfortunately, though, this story stumbles in Miri's and Simon's characterizations. Though Carroll created intriguing back-stories for both, she didn't fully explore their potential or the consequences of their long separation. By the story's conclusion their attraction seems tepid and their love forced and unconvincing.

Even so, most of the plot threads that Carroll so intricately cast out in The Dark Queen and The Courtesan are tied off, The Book of Shadows remains unaccounted for, and the future of someone close to Martin Le Loup is left open ended. Let's hope that Carroll picks up these tantalizing snippets and weaves another layer into the Daughters of the Earth mythology.

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