Review: R.J. Hore: The Dark Lady (Review and Giveaway)

R.J. Hore

The Dark Lady

Welcome to Reading Addictions Blog Tour’s stop for ‘The Dark Lady’.

Nefasti’s father has just died, and her three uncles are manoeuvring for the throne. She’s only 10, but she won’t let this get in the way of finding out who killed her beloved parents or becoming a good ruler, who perhaps can restore the beauty of her country.

The official blurb:

A young girl, Nefasti, wakes to discover her father, the King of the ancient kingdom of Vadio, has been poisoned and her mother, the Queen, is near death, leaving her the sole heir to the crown. Princess Nefasti has three uncles who feel otherwise. Two uncles believe the solution to controlling the kingdom is to betroth her to one of their sons, the third thinks that by marrying her himself he will secure the crown. To compound Nefasti’s problems, Vadio is surrounded by three hostile kingdoms, the remnants of the days when Vadio ruled most of the known world. These kingdoms plot to take control, whether through an arranged marriage, or war, or by whatever manner they can.
Princess Nefasti has two main goals, to survive, and to discover who is responsible for the death of her parents. Surrounded on all sides by plots, in order to save her life, is she destined to the side of darkness, or is she simply a misunderstood child? She must find allies and use her wits while trying to hold on to the throne. If I had to look at what prompted the idea for this novel, it was first wondering how certain individuals in fiction or history obtain their reputation, and second, looking at the life of Queen Elizabeth the First as a young girl in a precarious position surrounded by scheming nobles.

My review:

The Dark Lady initially drew me in due to the title. As I continued reading though, it took me a bit to realise that the Dark Lady must be Nefasti. Duh! Of course she is, who else would it be?

13484094The names of the characters are a little strange in my opinion. Nefasti reminds me of Egyptian culture, while some of the others seemed European or a play on words (like some of the ambassadors!) I appreciate the difficulty in making unique character names, and I think Hore has done a good job. I had trouble remembering which ambassador belonged to each prince, so it was definitely a good thing that Hore kept reminding me in the first half of the novel.

The beginning of each chapter is a little paragraph from the nurse’s perspective that relates intimately to Nefasti’s behaviour in the following text. Each of these is a reasonable explanation for events without the intervention of magic. I felt like the fantasy was explained, yet there was more than met the eye. As the novel progresses, these become more and more cryptic.

Medieval fantasy. I was mistakenly reading this as historical fantasy. Therefore I’m not surprised that I didn’t recognise any of the manoeuvring or the geography as history. It took me a bit to realise this again as well.

Nefasti is remarkably composed for a 10 year old. There were a couple of inconsistencies if you believed that it was her father’s death that made her into a miniature adult instead of her being that way before, but other than that she composes herself just as you would hope. I just couldn’t feel her as a character, despite it being told from her perspective. There was hardly any inner awareness, which is something I really go for.

This book was marketed as an epic fantasy, or at least I thought it was. Now, currently I’m also reading another epic fantasy for a review next month, and I thought that the definition of an epic fantasy was that they were around 800 pages or more. Two other examples I’ve read this year are Kushiel’s Dart and Eirelan. Imagine my surprise that when I opened this novel up on my Kobo, I found that it had only around 300 pages. I was relieved actually, as I felt like I otherwise would feel rushed to read the book and wouldn’t enjoy it as much.

I’m not sure this is a reread for me. I would probably give it three stars – I liked it enough to enjoy reading it, but the dialogue felt a little stilted in parts (perhaps as part of Nefasti’s character). Perhaps I have been spoiled lately. I think it’s a very respectable medieval fantasy novel for those who enjoy fantasy in general.

The novel’s ending left me a little underwhelmed. I didn’t really feel the buildup until the last 50 pages or so, and then it seemed like everything happened at once. Nefasti certainly got her feet under her quickly enough. It seems like maybe this should have a sequel, because the epilogue was also rather cryptic!

I’d recommend this book for teenagers and adults. Although there are some adult themes (read: skimmed over sex scenes), they are understated and actually add to the novel.

I received this book free as part of a tour, but this has no way influenced my review.

Find it on:
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Champagne Books or Burst Books4star

About the Author

A reader of genre fiction since a very early age, got down to serious attempts at writing over thirty years ago, although employment kept getting in the way. I did write a considerable amount of non-fiction during my business career, enough to be listed as a professional writer by the Canadian Authors Association.
 Hobbies include trying to keep on the good side of my wife, keeping track of my children and grandchildren, and wrestling the blasted cat off of the keyboard. In my diminishing spare time I sail on Lake Winnipeg and try not to get lost.
 My writing history includes: Winning first prize in a National Canadian Authors short story contest (a romantic ghost story) and having that published in an anthology, and having a modern vampire tale published in an anthology that seems to be doing quite well.
 A current member of three writing organizations, for several years I was in charge of the judging for a national Canadian history book contest, and chaired a writer’s workshop in Winnipeg that self-published an anthology, including three of my pieces: a sci fi piece, an attempt at an epic poem, and a true tale of how I almost drowned my brother and his wife in a storm the first year I owned a sailboat.
 I currently review science fiction and fantasy genre novels and anthologies for an on-line magazine aimed primarily at school libraries. I’m losing track, but I have done somewhere over 60 reviews so far.
 In 20I0 I co-authored a non fiction history: “The Rotary Club of Winnipeg-100 Years of Service”.
 Through BURST Books, writing as R.J.Hore, I have a medieval fantasy tale of murder and intrigue entitled “The Dark Lady” that came out in February 2012 and a fantasy detective story scheduled for December 2012 called “Housetrap”. Housetrap is designed as the first in a series of novellas; I have three others in the set already completed, but not scheduled, as of this date: “Dial M for Mudder,” “The House on Hollow Hill,” and “Hounds of Basalt Ville.” Already scheduled for publication, I have a novella “Knight’s Bridge” another medieval tale arriving in March 2013, and a full length novel, again a medieval fantasy, working title “Pawn, Queen, Checkmate,” coming out in April 2013.
 And of course, I also have a large stack of completed manuscripts in various stages ranging from a “What If” — the North Americans discovered Europe first, set in 1215AD – to a contemporary bickering married couple swept away to an alterative universe, or a futuristic tale of a lady archeologist set in outer space.

You can find him at:


Not sure if you like my opinion? Good thing this is a tour! You can look at some other reviews at:

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