Sunday, November 13, 2011

Guest Review: "The Shadow Reader" by Sandy Williams

One thing we bloggers do is share books. I think of it as a kind of pay-it-forward kind of thing and I've been the lucky recipient of this more than a few times. This time around I sent my copy of The Shadow Reader to Sara at Sara's Urban Fantasy Blog and she graciously wrote a review for me to post in return.

Title: The Shadow Reader ARC
Author: Sandy Williams
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 10/25/11
A Houston college student, McKenzie Lewis can track fae by reading the shadows they leave behind. For years she has been working for the fae King, tracking rebels who would claim the Realm. Her job isn't her only secret. She's in love with Kyol, the King's sword-master-but human and fae relationships are forbidden. When McKenzie is captured by Aren, the fierce rebel leader, she learns that not everything is as she thought. And McKenzie must decide who to trust and where she stands in the face of a cataclysmic civil war.

Plot: 4.5 Stars
Normally, I’m not the biggest fan of a kidnapping plot line, but somehow this novel was different. The kidnapping in this novel wasn’t nearly as malevolent as it could have been which definitely helped me enjoy the novel. Aren and the rebels wanted to sway McKenzie to their side of the war, show that things may not be as black and white as she thought. There’s a bit of a tug-o-war for McKenzie and her ability, and she soon found herself in sticky situation after even stickier situation. The author’s take on the Fae was also very intricate and unique. Faerie novels don’t always work for me outside of Young Adult, but this one really stood out. If I had one complaint about the plot, it would be that McKenzie doesn’t use her ability of shadow reading enough. She actually sat down and did it only a handful of times, and although she mentioned it a couple other times when she saw Fae going through rifts, I would’ve liked to learn a bit more about it. Especially since the novel was named after the ability. But this one small thing barely takes away from this fantastic debut.

Pace: 4.5 Stars
This novel was non-stop action. There were multiple captures of multiple characters. There were multiple escapes attempted by McKenzie, most unsuccessful. She shifted between realms more often than she ever had before, and it started to take its toll. There was never a dull moment, and never really a time when the characters sat around waiting for the next attack. They were constantly in motion, constantly planning new attacks and escapes, constantly scheming and it was a lot of fun to read. There were so many twists and turns at just the right moments, keeping me on my toes.

Characters: 5 Stars
McKenzie was a very interesting Urban Fantasy heroine. She has been helping the royal Fae with her shadow reading skill since she was a teenager. Although she doesn’t know everything about the realm, including the language, she isn’t completely lost. After being captured by the rebels, a lot of her beliefs are thrown for a loop and it was very interesting to watch as she tried to put things back together. She often fought against what she was being shown and didn’t always take new information in stride. This stubbornness made her feel more like a real person. Aren was a very interesting bad guy. After kidnapping McKenzie, he treats her very well and legitimately wants to help her see the rebel cause. He even goes as far as teaching McKenzie the language of the Fae. On top of that, he stirred up some confusing feelings for McKenzie, which she had to deal with on top of everything else. Kyol isn’t seen much until the second half of the book, so the reader mostly learned about him through McKenzie in the beginning. He isn’t as open and forthcoming as Aren due to his position in the royal court, and is pulled in different direction by both the court and McKenzie. The dynamic of these three main characters was very interesting, and it was definitely more complex than your typical “love triangle.”

Cover: 4.5 Stars
This cover’s color scheme is what originally drew my eye. It’s not very often I come across a pink novel, especially in the Urban Fantasy genre. Somehow, the artist was able to make the pink look sassy instead of too girly. It probably has something to do with the large sword on the cover model’s back. The cover model herself is a good representation of McKenzie. The swirling hair brings the focus to the model and her weapon. And her outfit works really well. The cover model is in normal clothes because McKenzie spends most of the novel in normal clothes. I’m glad the Urban Fantasy genre is moving away from every cover model dressed in barely there black leather. A girl can kick just as much ass in some jeans. The swirls of color add a nice touch to the cover as well. They mimic the lightning that runs across a human’s skin when in the Fae realm, or a Fae’s skin in the human realm. The setting of the cover is also reminiscent of a scene in the beginning of the novel.

Overall: 4.5 Stars


Amanda Bonilla said...

Great review! I have to say, The Shadow Reader is one of my fav books of the year!

SQT said...

It definitely ranks on my list too. Thanks for the review Sara!

Antonakis said...

As a guy, how anyone can use a whole paragraph describing and talking about the cover and not mention that wonderful shape of you-know-what is trully beyond me!!