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The Huntress: Daughters of the Faire Isle    by Susan Carroll order for
by Susan Carroll
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2007 (2007)
Softcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

The year is 1585 and the Virgin Queen rules her kingdom with an iron hand while her many spies try to uncover the latest plot to assassinate her and install her Scottish cousin Mary as rightful ruler. One of those spies is Martin Wolfe, formerly known as Martin le Loup, a Frenchman now living incognito in London with his young daughter Meg. Many believe Meg will one day topple kingdoms with her gift of mysticism.

Three years have passed since Martin rescued his daughter from her sorceress mother and fled France. He believes that the followers of the Silver Rose, as well as the Book of Shadows, have been destroyed, and that by abandoning his homeland he will keep his child safely out of Catherine de Medici's reach. But when Ariane, Lady of the Fair Isle, dispatches a messenger with dire warnings that the coven of the Silver Rose is once again flourishing - and that the Dark Queen is still on the hunt for Megaera and the Book of Shadows - Martin's carefully constructed ruse begins to unravel.

Catriona O'Hanlon displays a fair hand with weaponry but when it comes to besting the clever le Loup, she has her work cut out for her. Martin refuses to believe that delivering his daughter to her sisters on Faire Isle is in Meg's best interest. Indeed, he has banned all mention of mysticism in his household and insists his daughter will grow up to become nothing more than a proper English lady. But while Martin serves Elizabeth's spymasters, he has no idea that others have insinuated themselves into his life - and his daughter's - and that a dark net of betrayal is tightening around them.

Susan Carroll has taken real historical events, marvelous characters and a generous touch of the paranormal and crafted another page turning historical romance. The irrepressible Martin le Loup (first introduced as a young Paris thief in The Courtesan) finally has his own story and makes for a dashing and very sympathetic hero. Catriona is more than his equal - a strong, feisty and very loyal Irish lass who knows her way around weapons and generally wins any scrap, but finds herself outside her comfort zone from the first moment she clashes with Martin.

Young Megaera is also a fascinating and beautifully realized character. Under Carroll's sure hand, her portrayal is often heartbreaking as she's torn between pleasing her adoring papa and struggling to understand her growing powers - and the enormous expectations of others. The Huntress is another well told and engrossing tale. While Martin and Cat find their happy ending, Carroll's adept plotting assures that there will be at least a few more installments in the rich and fascinating Daughters of the Faire Isle series.

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