Review: The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams

Filed in 4 Stars , featured , Review , Sandy Williams , The Needy Lover Posted on March 1, 2012 @ 3:00 pm 9 comments

Format Read: Mass Market Paperback
Length: 320 Pages
Publisher: Ace Books
Genre: urban fantasy
Series: Shadow Reader, #1
Release Date: October 25, 2011
Formats Available: Mass Market Paperback, eBook
Purchasing Info: GoodreadsBook DepositoryAuthor’s Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million

Book Blurb:

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.

Read an excerpt of The Shadow Reader

My Thoughts:

First things first, and something that may interest many; the book is written in the first person present tense. Now, I’ve not read much in that particular narrative style, and I do tend to prefer the use of the past tense (in either first- or third-person voice), but it worked well in this case, disappearing behind the meat of the storytelling. (My personal affinity for this style is likely in no small part due to its wonderful use in Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax series. Perhaps it had broken the proverbial dam of my prejudice against 1st POV Present?) In any case, the device lent itself well to the uncertainty of the protagonist’s situation, and to the confusion of the action sequences (of which there were many).

Now, a bit of context: McKenzie, a human trying to live as normal a life as possible, possesses the ability to “read” shadows of fae teleportation. The fae, whose own ability to jump between earth and their own parallel dimension equates to considerable power, either greatly appreciate or fear a power like McKenzie’s–after all, she can pinpoint where you’ve gone, allowing any fae to be followed if she’s witnessed the departure. It’s McKenzie’s ability to see the otherwise invisible fae and read their shadows that makes her the perfect ally and the worst kind of enemy.

This book is all about perceptions and allegiances. It’s about how these views can differ vastly from one individual to the next, and how they can change with just the smallest bit of truth–or non-truth–introduced. It is what forms the cornerstone of the world building in the series; there is a building discord among the fae that threatens to bubble into civil war, and it’s all due to perceived notions that two major groups have of each other. It was exciting, that feeling of always questioning what’s unfolding on the page. The politics of the fae world are extremely intricate and sometimes elusive, and this story has provided enough of that intrigue and mystery to suggest that it’s the books to follow that will reveal the most crucial revelations.

Along those lines, I really enjoyed the concept of a human being whose considerable abilities and long-held allegiances–and the assumed benevolence of both–are thrown into question when some additional perspective is given to her. Though the story is told through McKenzie’s eyes, there is so much unknown and unclear about her and her motives, building a great question mark that the protagonist herself has to untangle. It’s certainly fun watching McKenzie work through her considerable inner turmoil to figure out what she’s been doing for years, and why she’s been doing it.

One element that I enjoyed immensely was the interaction between McKenzie and Aren (one of the rebels). Yep, theirs is part of a love triangle (cue groan of distaste if that’s not your bag ^_^)–the relationship between McKenzie and soldier Kyol is somewhat of a shadow itself, already established off-screen and in the distant past–McKenzie’s dealings with Aren are the diametric opposite, and they are the perfect exhibition of how prejudices can be formed, maintained, or broken with small actions and gestures. The sniping, the scuffles, the slowly developing connection…this is where the really interesting emotional drama and tension unfolds.

I thought it spoke well to this book that, even after checking the ending just now (which I NEVER do) I was still on pins and needles reading the chapters leading up to the conclusion. The action scenes in general are high-octane, but it’s due to the constant thread of uncertainty that I found myself unsure of…well, anything. I. Love. That. Feeling. ^_^ It formed the very fabric of great drama. And I most certainly cannot wait to delve further into the Shadow Reader world in the next book, The Shattered Dark, out near the end of of 2012.

I give The Shadow Reader 4 Stars

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

About Alisha

Alisha, the bespectacled and ever nerdy California girl, simply won't leave home without a book in hand. She loves language learnin' and is working toward becoming a bonafide grammar ninja. On any given day you'll find her haunting local libraries or baking scores of cupcakes and sweet treats.

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Join the Discussion
  • blodeuedd March 1, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    I do have this one waiting for me but I am yet to read it..soon though

    • Alisha March 1, 2012 at 4:29 pm

      I do hope you like it! It’s a fun one.

  • Mel S March 1, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    I bought this book on the pretty cover (yes, I am that shallow!), but now I know the story stands up as well, this has moved up my TBR pile! Can’t wait to get started! 🙂

  • Emily March 1, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    I think it’s a testament to this book that even though there was a big love triangle (and normally I can’t STAND love triangles) it was still a great book to read. I think what did it for me was how honest McKenzie was with herself; she saw the situation how it was and in my opinion picked the right guy. We’ll see what happens in the next book though!

  • aurian March 2, 2012 at 5:36 am

    Nice review Alisha, but somehow I am still on the fence about this one.

  • Tamsyn March 2, 2012 at 9:52 am

    This has a touch of Twilight – college girl, love triangle, paranormal. Is this a standalone or will it spin into a series?

  • melliane March 2, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Oh I’m so glad you enjoyed this one as much as I did, it was an amazing book! And I loved the world, so interesting! You’re right the interaction between Aren and McKenzie was so nice to follow.

  • Melissa (My words and pages) March 4, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    Oh I do want this one. I don’t know if I’d heard it was in first person before or not. Thanks for sharing that. And I still want it. lol. Thanks!

  • Laurie March 11, 2012 at 11:14 am

    This is a new to me author, thanks for the review!

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