Monday, 18 August 2014

Book Review: The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams

The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams (urban fantasy ... ish)

I liked this book.  It didn't suck me in and shut off real life until I'd devoured it at speed, but I did finish it, and I do have the next one on my wishlist.  I'm not entirely happy with calling it urban fantasy, as some of it felt more like straight fantasy, although that may be due to the fact that much of the story takes place in the fae realm, not in our world.

McKenzie (I really don't understand why so many characters seem to be given surnames these days, but I can get past it!) is a shadow reader - she can not only see the fae, she can tell where they have teleported - or 'fissured' - to.  A rare talent that the Fae king has been making use of for several years.  McKenzie is in love with his sword master, Kyol, but relationships between humans and Fae are forbidden, so she knows nothing can come of it.  She has never questioned the stance of the king and his soldiers, however - she knows they have right on their side, and she's happy to use her talent to help them.

However, when she is kidnapped by the Fae rebellion - those she assists the king to defend against - she begins to realise that perhaps not everything is exactly as she's always believed.  I liked McKenzie's character.  She's not super-human in any way other than her particular talent.  She gets hurt, she makes poor decisions, but she learns along the way and she's not absolutely resistant to the truth when it's shown to her.  That said, she's loyal, so making a decision that will hurt the king and Kyol, or the rebels and their leader, Aren - who is quite different to Kyol, but noble in his own way - is a terrible choice for her.

There's a cast of interesting, mostly three-dimensional supporting characters, and the premise of a woman who can sense teleportation was unusual.  I thought the book was well-written, although I must warn you it's written in the present tense.  I've read several such books recently, and it doesn't really bother me, but I used to really struggle with it.  I've never in my life written anything in the present tense, and I don't really understand why writers use it, but I'm okay with it.  And after writing this review, I'm actually quite eager to start the next one!

4/5 stars

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