Monday, September 9, 2013

Review: Shadowfell

Shadowfell, by Juliet Marillier. The GoodReads summary:
Sixteen-year-old Neryn is alone in the land of Alban, where the oppressive king has ordered anyone with magical strengths captured and brought before him. Eager to hide her own canny skill--a uniquely powerful ability to communicate with the fairy-like Good Folk--Neryn sets out for the legendary Shadowfell, a home and training ground for a secret rebel group determined to overthrow the evil King Keldec.

During her dangerous journey, she receives aid from the Good Folk, who tell her she must pass a series of tests in order to recognize her full potential. She also finds help from a handsome young man, Flint, who rescues her from certain death--but whose motives in doing so remain unclear. Neryn struggles to trust her only allies. They both hint that she alone may be the key to Alban's release from Keldec's rule. Homeless, unsure of who to trust, and trapped in an empire determined to crush her, Neryn must make it to Shadowfell not only to save herself, but to save Alban.
As much as I love Juliet Marillier as an author, I found that this was a book that was easy for me to put down and do something else. It didn’t grip me, in other words, and hence it took me the better part of a week to read. Which is not to say that I didn’t enjoy it. I did—and there were some things (or, ahem, some people) that I definitely liked about it.

I think the reason this book failed to draw me in was twofold. One, it’s a fairly slow story. The majority of the book is Neryn traveling, either by herself or with Flint or with some of the Good Folk (the fey creatures only she can see). And since most of the time she’s in hiding or trying to avoid other people on her journey, it’s a pretty quiet story. The main plotline is her learning more about her powers and what they might mean for the struggling kingdom, and there’s not all that much action, so while it was interesting, it didn’t really grab me.

Second, I didn’t find Neryn to be that charismatic of a narrator. I admired her for sure, but I never felt a particular connection to her and found her a tad boring. On top of that, she makes some choices that, while I totally understood her reasoning, annoyed me a bit nonetheless. I think she has potential though, and hopefully in the next two books she’ll evolve more as a character.

Now for the thing I loved a lot about the book: Flint. Oh my goodness, FLINT. That boy is a dream come true, let me tell you. I kinda feel like this book is worth reading just for him. He’s gone through terrible things and done even worse things, but beneath the guilt and self-doubt, he’s a good and kind man. And that’s the thing that gets me. That he manages to somehow hold on to that bit of goodness when anyone else in his situation would’ve lost their grip on it a long time ago. And that though he’s on the verge of giving up on himself, he doesn’t give up on those around them or his cause. I just . . . gah! FLINT!

Anyway, overall, as you can see, although this book didn’t blow me away in the same way some of Juliet Marillier’s other books have, it’s got Flint in it, and I suspect anything with Flint is worth reading.

Rating: 3.5 / 5


  1. Isn't it strange how one character you love can raise a book up but one character you hate can really destroy it. I'm glad you found Flint interesting at least. I think this one might be a bit too slow for me.

  2. I've heard that this story is quite slow-one of the reasons it hasn't been on my priority list. If I happen to see it at the library, I'll give it a try but otherwise I'll just let it rest as there are loads of other books grabbing my attention.


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