Catherine de Medici is a child of the infamous Medici family, rulers of Florence. After rebels topple the family, Catherine is forced into captivity. Even though Catherine is eventually rescued, her life will never be the same. As a daughter of the Medici family and niece to the Pope, Catherine is forced to become a political pawn in her family's schemes. She is sent to France to marry the unwilling Prince Henri. In France, Catherine continues her odd childhood fascination with astrology and gets pulled into the intrigue at the French court. When, by a twist of fate, Catherine becomes Queen of France, she will do anything to protect her children and the crown... anything.
The Devil's Queen is definitely not for children. It includes graphic depictions of sex and violence. The sex, in particular, is highly graphic and included primarily to give the novel a romance edge. While there is some aspect of romance in this novel, it's a fairly minor subplot, most likely included to draw in more readers.
The biggest centerpiece of this novel is the discussion of Catherine de Medici's involvement in witchcraft and astrology. While it seems like the market is being flooded with historical novels about witchcraft, Jeanne Kalogridis approaches the topic in a seemingly fresh manner, filled with vivid (and sometimes gruesome) depictions of rituals and well-researched information about the superstitions Catherine de Medici believed.
While The Devil's Queen was entertaining and kept me reading, it felt like it was a little lacking. First, while Catherine felt like a realistic woman with real emotions and reactions, I just wasn't completely pulled in by her. In fact, I was most interested in the story when Kalogridis talked about Catherine's witchcraft than any other part of the novel. Catherine does become more compelling as the story goes on, but for most of time I simply didn't find Catherine all that fascinating. I just wasn't entirely pulled into her story or her character - I didn't quite feel her emotions or become engrossed in her life. I actually thought that many of the secondary characters were more interesting than Catherine. Kalogridis did an amazing job of creating complex, dynamic secondary characters, but at the expense of pushing the main character out of the reader's focus.