The Shadow Reader (Early Review)

, by Kt Clapsadl

The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams
McKenzie Lewis #1

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.

McKenzie has a secret, she can see the fae and track their paths. The rest of humanity thinks she is crazy, as she talks to invisible people that others cannot see. For ten years she's worked for the king, by locating the rebels, but she's had just about enough. All she wants is a little normalcy to be able to finish her degree. Her love for Kyol is the only thing that has been holding her back, even if the king has forbidden relations between fae and humans. Then everything changes when she is captured by the rebel Aren. He slowly opens her eyes to what her blinders wouldn't let her see before. As she slides down a very slippery slope, McKenzie will have a tough path ahead of her once she chooses which side to trust. There won't be any going back after this.

By all rights I shouldn't have been able to stand McKenzie as her behavior for most of the book seemed incredibly immature, but somehow I found myself really liking her in the end. She's terribly naive, and stubborn as a mule, but also extremely loyal, if not blindly so. Even her being torn in a love triangle didn't make me want to run for the hills like that type of romance usually does. Perhaps that is because it was less about angst, and more about growth and letting go of childish illusions to make the best choice she can for herself. There were a lot of reasons for her initial immaturity, but as her eyes were slowly opened, we got to see glimpses at her iron strength that really shines in the end. I found myself wanting to cheer for her as she learned to make those hard decisions, and I can't wait to see where the path leads her next.

There were a few things that kept me from giving The Shadow Reader a perfect rating. While the world behind the book was very intriging, I couldn't help feeling like a fish out of water as I tried to figure things out. A lot of books go overboard with info dumps as things are being set up, but in this case, a little more information would have really gone a long way. I'm still not entirely sure what some of the terms mean, and I wish there had of been a glossary at the end for reference. Also, another thing that frustrated me was the multiple names each character had. It just made the story a little harder to follow, and kept me from being completely sucked in. However, I do think future books will be much better in that aspect now that I have a little better handle of things.

While the ending of The Shadow Reader wasn't a cliffhanger, things were left more than open enough for plenty more, making for my favortite type of ending. I love that sense of satisfaction coupled with the promise for the future, and this book definitely hit that nail on the head. All in all The Shadow Reader was a very solid debut novel that gave me a solid block of entertainment. The world and characters are quite compelling, making for a very enjoyable read. Fans of urban fantasy won't want to miss this great new addition to the genre.

(Received a copy from the publisher)


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  1. I can't wait to read it ! I hope I will receive it soon enough ! Thanks for this great review. I'm glad there is no cliffhanger, it would be even more difficult to wait the sequel.

  2. I am extremely in love with the cover of this book! I am glad to hear the story stands up to it. :) I love the Fae and don't read enough of them...

  3. @Melliane I have a love-hate relationship with cliffhangers. But it is nice to have a book that wrap things up well from time to time.

    @Smash I love the cover too!! Fae books always intrigue me because they are such tricky buggers. :)


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