Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Where the Shadows Fall

In a world where the canny folk (magical) are hunted and destroyed by the king's men, a 16 year old girl can't expect to survive on her own, let alone make a difference in the world. In Juliet Marillier's Shadowfell, Neryn is more than meets the eye.

Neryn has suffered alongside her father in tough times, but when he bets her in a game of chance, and loses, his choices have now threatened her life. Luckily, the man who won her whisks her off the gaming boat just before a raid destroyed the place and everyone inside it. Terrified of the plans the man has for her, Neryn is careful to keep her secret from him. This is the very same secret that killed her grandmother and kept Neryn and her father on the run for most of her life. 

Neryn knows she shouldn't trust this man, Flint, and even though she leaves him behind, he always seems to find her. She quickly realizes he is one of the king's Enforcers, soldiers who rid the world of canny folk, but there is something about this man that makes her want to trust him. She knows the risks and the very real possibility that he may be leading her right to the king, but her intuition tells her there is more to Flint. Still, the fey (mystical, diverse creatures) don't trust anyone who wears the king's uniform, and they try to protect Neyrn because she is something special, something they have all been waiting for. She might be the key to defeating the king and saving their beloved country. 

This book started off with a bang, Flint saving Neryn and whisking her away, and all her conversations with the canny folk, but then it just kind of petered out in the middle. Don't get me wrong, the descriptions were downright beautiful, and the world built was quite extraordinary, but the story wasn't quite what I wanted it to be. The majority of the story was about Neryn's journey, and sometimes I found myself thinking, "Oh just get there already; no more of this wandering about!" And to add to that, her on again off again issues with Flint grew a little tiresome. Unfortunately, this story just didn't hold my attention like the beginning suggested it was going to.

Because it was so slow at first, I probably wouldn't give this book to just any student. I would pass it on to a stronger reader who really loved fantasy, because the world building and language really is exquisite, but I think a weaker reader would be lost about 1/4 of the way through the book. I have a feeling that the next book in the series will really amp up the story, especially the way it ended taken into consideration, but I have no real idea of how Marillier plans to take this story if she writes all installments the way this one was written. Hopefully this book just suffered from "background info dump" syndrome as some first books do, and the rest of the series will recover from its downfalls. Still, the writing is quite breathtaking, and I intend to read the next book with an optimism for its success.

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