Thursday, December 8, 2011
The Shadow Reader, by Sandy Williams
Release date: October 25th 2011
Published by: Penguin
Genre: Urban fantasy
Rating: 5/5 stars
There can only be one allegiance.
It’s her time to choose.
Some humans can see the fae. McKenzie Lewis can track them, reading the shadows they leave behind. But some shadows lead to danger. Others lead to lies.
A Houston college student trying to finish her degree, McKenzie has been working for the fae king for years, tracking vicious rebels who would claim the Realm. Her job isn’t her only secret. For just as long, she’s been in love with Kyol, the king’s sword-master—and relationships between humans and fae are forbidden.
But any hope for a normal life is shattered when she’s captured by Aren, the fierce and uncompromising rebel leader. He teaches her the forbidden fae language and tells her dark truths about the Court, all to persuade her to turn against the king. Time is running out, and as the fight starts to claim human lives, McKenzie has no choice but to decide once and for all whom to trust and where she ultimately stands in the face of a cataclysmic civil war.
Aaaah, this was such an amazing read. And a confusing one, that is. I took my time to understand the world created by Sandy Williams. Not that I have no experience with fae (hello, Eugenie Markham), but the setting was rather different from what I'm used to read. But when it finally clicked into my brain, I enjoyed it so much.
First, there's McKenzie. Do you know that protagonist that actually thinks before acting? That's Mckenzie. She's one of the best characters ever. She doesn't fight, doesn't have superpowers except for the shadow-reading skills, but even then, she's not afraid to get a little dirty while doing what needs to be done. McKenzie has personality -- being in love with the sword-master Kyol doesn't affect her judgment. She's not a weak girl that depends on the guy she loves. Every time she pushed her feelings aside to deal with most important things, I wanted to jump into the pages and hug her.
Then, there's the love triangle. I'm not a fan of those. In fact, I hate to see two guys fall all over one girl, who's not even able to make a choice. But the love triangle that Sandy Williams introduced in The Shadow Reader made me wanna bite my nails and scream "I'M CONFUSED". Both Arien and Kyol are honorable fae, from different sides of a war. Kyol, the sword-master who has always loved and protected McKenzie, and Arien, who abducted her, and tried so hard to get under her skin.
I admit that at first I was 100% Kyol. But with each comment, grin, look, and action, Arien made my heart soften. The same thing happened with McKenzie, and she fought every spark that his touch ignited in her. The dialogues between them are so funny to read -- and there was a point when I actually started to encourage Arien. Crazy o.O
The writing is another positive point in this review. I despise narration written in the present time, and I realize I'm loving the book when this doesn't bother me. That's what happened in The Shadow Reader. I was halfway through the book when I thought, "Wait. Is this book written in the present?". The writing is so good I didn't notice it.
The shadow reader concept is really interesting, as well. I found it fascinating the way McKenzie was able to draw and pinpoint an exact location. Another thing I enjoyed is how our loyalty shifts as the story goes on. At first, I was all but screaming at Kyol to just kill the rebels and be done with it. After chapter 20 or so, I wanted to kill the king. The author really did make this change of loyalty in the characters subtle, the way it should be, dragging the readers along with McKenzie.
I just think the ending could've been worked out with a little more details. But long story short: this is the way most urban-fantasy books should be written. I can't find a single thing I didn't like about The Shadow Reader. This book is just that good.