Have you ever accidently found yourself several books into a series, with no labels to tell you that, leaving you to wonder exactly why you’ve been missing something, and not knowing exactly what that something is? That was my experience with this book.
Miri Cheney is the youngest daughter of Evangeline Cheney, the legendary Lady of Fair Isle. (Youngest daughter, so it turns out you’ve already gotten the stories of the childhood of the sisters, as well as the two older daughters' adult stories, if you’ve been keeping up.) Like her mother, she’s a Daughter of the Earth, but her magic is more with animals than people. When she was younger, she fell in love with the witch hunter Simon Aristide, who used her to get close to her sisters. (Yep, more back story.) Her sisters were forced to flee France, and Miri’s heart was broken.
It’s years later, and Miri, the only one of the sisters not convicted of witchcraft, has returned to Fair Isle. And it’s there that Simon finds her. He’s very much a changed man, much humbled, having been seeking the Silver Rose, an evil sorceress who has proven to him that many of the women he persecuted in the past were not the evil witches he believed them to be. He very much wants Miri’s oldest sister’s help, but Ariane has left France, and only Miri is left. Miri doesn’t believe she can trust Simon, but she knows the Silver Rose must be stopped.
Surprisingly, this book actually doesn’t do too badly as a stand alone. You definitely get the feeling you’re missing some good character development, but the actual action of this book makes sense. It plays out against the larger back story of France during the reign of King Henry, and his mother, Catherine de Medici, in this world, also a dark sorceress. I’d say this book tilts more romance than straight fantasy, but I enjoyed it, and I wouldn’t mind meeting Miri’s sisters.