***Warning: While I have tried to avoid spoilers for 'Shadow Heir', this Review may contain spoilers for the Dark Swan series***
Shadow Heir (Dark Swan #4) - Richelle Mead
Grade: Adult - UF
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
#1 New York Times bestselling author Richelle Mead returns to the Otherworld, a mystic land inextricably linked to our own--and balanced precariously on one woman's desperate courage...
Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham strives to keep the mortal realm safe from trespassing entities. But as the Thorn Land's prophecy-haunted queen, there's no refuge for her and her soon-to-be-born-children when a mysterious blight begins to devastate the Otherworld...
The spell-driven source of the blight isn't the only challenge to Eugenie's instincts. Fairy king Dorian is sacrificing everything to help, but Eugenie can't trust the synergy drawing them back together. The uneasy truce between her and her shape shifter ex-lover Kiyo is endangered by secrets he can't--or won't--reveal. And as a formidable force rises to also threaten the human world, Eugenie must use her own cursed fate as a weapon--and risk the ultimate sacrifice.. (Description from Goodreads)
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I was worried about reading 'Shadow Heir'. I've had a rocky relationship with this series and I know of a lot of people who loved the book, but disliked the way it ended; and while I'll get to the ending later, I have to say I really liked this book.
Eugenie's final story is no exception to the up-and-down nature of the series. I can honestly say I'm never quite sure what she's going to do next. Personally, I wanted her to forget about all the prophecy drama and potential threats on her life, so she could jump into Dorian's open arms and then the two of them could work out everything together. But Eugenie had other plans which involved making her own decisions for herself, without thought about those around her. I've discovered it's necessary to take a step back from Eugenie while reading about her journeys. I don't always trust her judgement and don't like to get caught up in her decisions, because I'm certain they'll cause me to go insane.
I thought the beginning of 'Shadow Heir' was a bit slow. Eugenie's being attacked for being pregnant, but she can't fight back, because she can't endanger the twins. She's still stubborn and wants to fight, but by resisting we don't get to see her in her normal action-adventure ways. But she does get a chance to show off both fighting and magic skills after the babies are born and we're back to seeing how tough she is.
I really liked the direction the story took. I was concerned at first, because I was certain the plot would all be able Kiyo attempting to find the twins and that there would be a war between Eugenie and Maiwenn (obviously with Dorian being Eugenie's main ally) But there were more pressing matters with an outlying kingdom that caused most of the drama. I was really impressed with creatures Eugenie and her gang faced and I adored Volusian's role in this book. The action was well written; slightly rushed, but that might just be because I was enjoying it so much I wanted it to go on forever.
Now for the ending. I'll admit I was disappointed and a little angry. While I was expecting the two main twists, and they were perfect, they left me sort of empty. I don't feel like there was enough to completely end the series (and I know Richelle has blogged about why she ended it the way she did, but I still feel like more was needed). I want to know what happened to Jasmine. She was there for one of the major twists and everything was going fine and then she just sort of disappeared. I loved Jasmine the most in the book, so I was really sad not seeing her more at the end, especially since Eugenie and Jasmine seemed to form a true sisterly-bond in this book.
And then the actual last few pages. This is where my training in stepping away from Eugenie's decisions really helped. She makes a choice that I'm not a fan of. After everything she's been through, I thought honesty would be something she would hold in high regard. And while the decision is left open still, I was hoping for something more conclusive and for a better choice.
Overall, I loved it. It might not be the perfect ending I was looking for, but it was an extremely addictive read and I'm glad I know how it ended.
(Originally posted on Goodreads)