Review – Song for a Dark Queen

Cover of Song for a Dark Queen by Rosemary SutcliffSong for a Dark Queen, Rosemary Sutcliff
Review from 10th November, 2011

I found, in a corner of my university library I’d never seen before, a couple of Rosemary Sutcliff’s books I hadn’t read. This was one of them — the story of Boudicca, as told by her harper, interspersed with extracts from the letters of a Roman soldier to his mother. I think this is maybe the most female-centric of Sutcliff’s books that I can think of, and yet it’s told in the voice of a man, so there’s that. As with all Sutcliff’s books, it was readable and well-paced, and well-researched: there’s a poetry to it, too. The end made me choke up a little, even.

I don’t know why I didn’t like it more. I think there was just something eroticised about Boudicca’s war-making, something discomforting — which is appropriate, in a way, for a dark queen… But why does her power come most when she’s eroticised and her children violated?

In that sense, too, I found it more violent than most of Sutcliff’s work — more adult, I guess. There’s references to rape, seemingly on both sides, and there’s a lot of blood and guts.

I rarely give advice to parents in my reviews, but this time I feel it’s warranted. I wouldn’t go so far as to say prevent your children from reading it, but I do think you should read this one first and assess whether your child would be alright with reading it. It discomforts me, as an adult woman; as a child, I don’t know whether the references would have gone over my head or not, but I think I would have caught the horror of it anyway.

Rating: 3/5

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5 thoughts on “Review – Song for a Dark Queen

  1. I haven’t read her fiction for ages and ages, but I’ve got one or two of her titles lurking about for first or second read. I think you have to be in a dark mood to read her stuff…

  2. Omg, I can’t even remember the last Rosemary Sutfcliff book I read. 0-0 I Read a TON as a kid, but I can’t remember which ones…except for the Eagle one. Omg, I don’t even remember the full title. But I remember loving it and I adored the movie they made which was roughly based on it. Still, this one sounds like HEAVY STUFF. I am intrigued.
    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

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