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Shadowfest: A Dark Fantasy Adventure Kindle Edition
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‘She clattered across the cobbles of Blackstone Bridge. Swollen by heavy rainfall, the River Shona swept up her eastern sister Myrna in a foamy embrace. They roared south together towards the sea, battering rocks. Jets of seething spray flew over the parapet.’
These colorful, life-like descriptions pulled me in immediately, and the story swept along at a pace that kept me from putting the book down even when I had other things to do. (Shadowfest isn’t a short read, but I finished it in two days.)
Part of the story takes place in the present and part takes place nine years in the past. The present narrative follows Apothecary Brona; her familiar, a black cat named Balor; Guard Captain Aurelian; the tale’s antagonists, and a handful of minor characters. The past is concerned with a tough, crafty young Mage named Morven. Although at first they seem unrelated, the many viewpoints entwine to form a richly detailed world.
Different character viewpoints are neatly separated by chapter breaks, and each new section is handily marked with the character’s name. The characters are so well developed that I don’t think I would have had a hard time telling them apart, but I appreciated that the author took the time to eliminate any confusion. Of all the complex multi-viewpoint books I’ve read, this was by far the easiest to follow.
I like Reid’s characters; they’re human and believable and I found myself really caring what happened to them. My absolute favorite is Morven. I admire her toughness, ingenuity, and unshakeable will to survive. She’s definitely not your ‘delicate flower’ modern fantasy mage! She’s a young woman with a sarcastic wit and the skills to survive– whether her adversaries are witch-finders, malevolent denizens of the Otherworld, or powerful magic users with evil intentions.
Shadowfest kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish with all of its unexpected twists and turns, and had one of the most satisfying endings I’ve read in a long time. Like a complex Celtic knot, all of the story’s many threads are tucked into place in the end.
Full of relatable characters, and complex and fast paced enough to thrill teen and adult readers alike, I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys good myth and folklore-inspired fantasy. D.J. Reid is definitely one of my new favorite authors!
This book was fast paced, and action driven. I enjoyed the craftiness of the witches and all the laws and mythos created to build this world. Balor the cat was by far my favorite character (and I'm not really a cat person). He was sassy and sneaky the way a cat should be, but also knowledgable and witty. Brona was a good protagonist, and so was Aerulian, (the witch and temple guard respectively). They had fun banter, but ultimately got along in the end.
One character's story--Morven the witch--is told entirely through present tense, as opposed to the rest of the book, told in past tense. It's an interesting style choice. It makes sense because her story takes place separate from all the other characters, but I would have done it in reverse. Morven's story takes place 9 years prior, which would make sense to have her story told in past tense, and the current events told in present. It didn't bother me all that much, just took some getting used to.
I did really like how each chapter was a different character's point of view. That helped keep things in order.
Things I didn't enjoy:
-I had a hard time telling who was speaking most of the time because there were rarely any dialogue tags. ESPECIALLY at the beginning of a chapter. You have to treat each chapter like it's own separate story, and can't assume people know who's talking right away because that person may have been talking just in the chapter before.
-Because it was action packed, I was getting lost in the descriptions. Everything was described through action. I wish the author would have taken a step back to slow down the pace and describe the scene without there being action involved. I was often stuck wondering what kind of room they were standing in, or even what the characters looked like. The description of them comes later on, as they develop, when they should really be described when you first see them.
This isn't really a bad thing, because it was covered a little, but I personally would have liked to see more explanation on how their magic worked, or where it came from. But I was satisfied with the magic overall.