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Swallowing Darkness (Meredith Gentry, Book 7) by Laurell K. Hamilton
Cover Artist: Don Sipley
Review by Harriet Klausner
Ballantine Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345495938
Date: 04 November 2008 List Price $26.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Being a fairy princess is a heartbreaking and dangerous occupation; as Princess Meredith NicEssus of the Unseelie Court knows. Her Aunt the Queen promises that if she gets pregnant before her son impregnates someone; she will be the heir to the throne. Very few children are born in Fairie world, which is slowly dying. Now that Merry has come into her own powers, hope arises that the two Faerie Courts will revitalize. Merry is carrying twins who have six fathers including two men she loves, Doyle and Frost. The latter becomes the white stag as a sacrifice so his Merry can survive; she misses him dearly.

Merry is in the hospital recovering from the rape by her Uncle Taranis who kidnapped her and brought her to his Seelie Court. He is insane and his powers are fading. He hopes to pass off Merry's Children as his. Merry is so angry she decides to go public by denigrating him to the media who thinks her uncle is golden. To lift her spirits two of her men bring Gran, the only mother she has known, to see her. Unfortunately she is bespelled and tosses insults at Merry's lovers. Using mage powers she tries to kill them, but only kills herself when she tries to harm Merry.

Before Gran dies she tells Merry that her cousin Cair visited and touched her. She put a bespelled golden thread in Gran's hair before leaving. Merry's men find it and know Merry was set up to be killed by the only living relative she loved. A noble at the Seelie Court Lord Finber promised Cair she could couple with his son so if she gets pregnant they will marry and claim the throne.

A furious Merry calls for the Wild Hunt with one of her children's father Sholto, King of the Slaugh. The princess obtains her vengeance but at a price. Mistral, another of her children's' fathers is dying and she needs the Goddess' help to save him. She gets Doyle, who was injured and put in the hospital, taken to where Mistral sleeps. When they wake up they are healed. Sholto and Merry are crowned as King and Queen of the Slaugh in Faerie. The problem remains that her uncle wants to keep her prisoner she calls the police to help her and her man get out. Merry and her men battle Cel's second in command Siobham. her Aunt Andais, Queen of the Unseelie Court who loves her son in site of his selfishness and cruelty to those beneath him, tries to save him from Merry's wrath.

Swallowing Darkness is very different than all the other books in this series. There is very little sex with the emphasis on strategy and battles with Merry's special need for vengeance and justice. Merry wants what is best for her people; because of this trait and her sense of fairness, her men love her and want to be part of her life, but also are willing to die to keep her safe. Merry is well aware of how her men feel about her and goes out of her way not to exploit them. Still she is learning the intricacies of court intrigue at a time her rivals send assassins after her. On top of this she is lonely as she misses Frost even with Doyle there for her.

Although the Seelie Court employs "Good Cops" and the Unseelie Court is beset by murderers, there is little difference in reality between the two. One is more behind the scenes while the other is more open; but both share in common a belief in Faerie rule at any cost. Each is dangerous and making them even more lethal is increasingly the inhabitants are turning gruesome like the Slough and Goblins are.

This is the best book in the Princess Meredith NicEssus fantasy saga as readers get to know the characters without the diversion of sexual encounters. The emphasis is on love and caring as Laurell K. Hamilton has written a great enchanting and spellbinding romantic fantasy.

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