The Dark Queen
(The Empire Saga, #4)
Published by: Parliament House
Publication date: November 2nd 2021
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult
For fans of Elise Kova, Sarah J. Maas, and Holly Black.
For centuries, the Empire has been enslaved to an infallible, revered Prophecy—one that controlled every thought and action, banished those who questioned its integrity, and promised to bring peace and tranquility to those who followed blindly and believed unconditionally.
But the Prophecy is flawed.
Amid broken promises and mournful lamentations, fates are changed, and dreams are destroyed.
When an ancient force resurfaces and threatens to destroy all they know, new alliances are formed as the heirs to the Empire’s throne struggle to put aside personal differences for the good of their realm.
Before it’s too late.
The Empire Saga is best enjoyed in this order:
1. Two Thousand Years
2. Mark of the Empress
3. Beginning’s End
4. The Dark Queen
Welcome back, Empress.
Alexstrayna felt cold.
It wasn’t like when she had been outside for too long without an overcoat or a cape. Or as if she were caught out in the rain without an umbrella and the chill of the evening air had penetrated through her clothes until it reached her bones.
No, it was the feeling of waking up in the middle of the night after a nightmare, body slick with sweat and heart racing.
This was the chill of fear.
Wherever she was, it was dark. She sensed the cool smoothness of stone around her, yet when she cast her arms out she couldn’t feel any walls. From the smell of damp rock, however, she knew they were there.
And they were cold.
It was paralyzing. Instead of running, or trying to find a way out, she wrapped her arms around herself as if to retain whatever last bit of inner warmth she possessed. Huddled within those biting, stone confines, she tried to keep her teeth from chattering and her body from seizing.
Where was she? And how did she get there in the first place?
She had just watched the others pack and head off on their trek to the Borderlands. She and Jamison had stayed behind, and as they were returning to the palace…
She had approached them with no limp, no hobble, no sign of any outward injuries. In fact, the way she had snuck up on Alex in the palace gardens, catching her completely unaware, it was as though she hadn’t been in the infirmary just moments before, allegedly healing from wounds inflicted upon her by Lexan.
She remembered seeing Jamison in the distance, sprawled on the ground, immobile. And that man…
She had never met him before, but those eyes—they bore into her soul as if she should have recognized him.
A sob choked in her throat as her head throbbed with pain.
Despite the ache, Alex’s head whipped upward, and she stared desperately into the gloom. Sarayna? What was she doing there?
She tried to gather her legs beneath her, but they felt like lead. The pounding in her head—it was getting worse. Alex had to warn her daughter and maybe Sarayna could at least escape whatever this was, could tell Reylor and Treyan…
Her name echoed off the stones as if someone were there with her, watching her all along.
“Who’s there?” she rasped; her throat was raw as if she had been screaming. Had she? She couldn’t remember anything since her path crossed Crystal’s in the gardens.
A smooth, feminine chuckle resounded around her. “Oh, we are going to have a fine time together, you and I.”
“Who are you?” Alex demanded, her voice growing louder. She finally regained her footing and pushed herself up into a standing position.
The pain within Alex’s skull was almost unbearable, but her eyes began to adjust slowly, taking in what was, indeed, a room. The moss-covered walls confirmed the smell of dampness and the sound of trickling water could be heard. There was a brightening light above, shining through the darkness from a window. It was as if the suns were rising on a new day—like a dawning ray of hope that she was going to escape this hell. Wherever it was.
Although every muscle in her body was tense, as if the frigid air was eating away at her from the inside out, she started toward the light.
And that voice remained all around her.
“Until we meet again, Empress,” it said, just as that light exploded within the room.
For a moment, illuminated by the flash, Alex swore she saw a throne—a black marble chaise carved into the wall. Upon that throne was a female clad in black.
A woman wearing her face.
Before she could take a step closer to investigate, that light exploded not only in that dark room, but also inside her head. The brightness intermingled with the pain that had been building between her eyes, bursting like a million pins and needles through every pore of her body.
Everything went dark as Alex screamed.
M. Dalto is a bestselling New Adult author of adventurous romantic fantasy stories, having won a Watty award for excellence in digital storytelling for her debut novel, Two Thousand Years, in 2016. She spends her days as a full-time residential real estate paralegal, using her evenings to pursue her literary agenda, and when she’s not writing, she enjoys reading fantasy novels, playing video games, and drinking coffee. She currently lives in Massachusetts with her husband, their daughter, and their corgi named Loki.