Grade: Adult - UF
Rating: 5/5 stars
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. (Description from Goodreads)
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My first thought after finishing ‘The Shadow Reader’ was “Wow!” I loved this book! A friend had told me about it months ago and we both got pretty excited after reading the first chapter online. I’m so happy the entire book was as exciting as that first chapter.
I’ve read a lot of fae books this year and though most of them have had similar definitions of fae, especially with iron being deadly and fae being unable to lie, I really enjoy a good faerie book. But when Sandy Williams’s fae story turned out to have a completely different spin on the effects of human influences on fae and how their world is structured, I couldn’t help falling in love instantly! That’s not to say the fae in ‘The Shadow Reader’ have no weaknesses. The main issue involves being around human technology, I guess iron would be included in that but it’s not as deadly as other faerie books make it out to be. Technology weakens fae magic; not in a way that kills them, but a fae without magic will go insane. It’s was so strange to think that a watch, phone, or fridge could cause a loss of magic.
There is a war going on between those apparently in charge of the fae realm, the Court; and those who are against their regime, the Rebels. The Rebels have issues with the way the fae world is being run; increased taxes, the collapse of fae Provinces and restrictions on the use of Gates (specially constructed areas in both worlds, the only place where humans can travel between worlds, provided they have fae assistance). Like all wars, there’s a lot of hate and destruction; and when negotiation doesn’t seem to work, sneak attacks and fighting breaks out. Add in humans with the Sight, people who can see past fae illusions, like McKenzie Lewis and you wind up having a whole heap of problems.
McKenzie is a Shadow Reader, when the fae fissure (aka. Rip a hole between worlds and use it to travel to a new destination) they leave a light and shadow impression of where they arrive or leave from; McKenzie has the ability to draw the place within that impression via the shadows. A handy skill when you’re not sure where you are but can see the fae shadows. I adored McKenzie. She was so tough, despite getting herself injured quite a few times throughout the course of the book, her stubborn personality made her determined to never give in. She didn’t let herself get walked over (at least not intentionally) and she stood up for what she believed in. Give her a few lessons in sword fighting and she’ll never need someone to protect her again. Although, I can’t complain about her protectors, they’re pretty awesome too.
It’s another one of these fabulous books that tortures you with a love triangle: Aren and Kyol. Both fae men from opposing sides: the Rebels and the Court respectively. Kyol, the skilled Court fae who McKenzie has known and been attracted to for years, but has been forbidden from pursuing a fae-human relationship with; and Aren, the rebel, who can’t seem to stop healing McKenzie. McKenzie definitely feels torn between the two guys, who both ignite a warm response from her, but there can only be one winner. I worry about love triangles in the first book of a series (especially when I’m not sure how many books are planned for the series). I’m never sure if the guy who gets picked at the start will last the distance; I hope he will.
Can’t wait to see what trouble McKenzie gets into next.
Originally posted on Goodreads