Where Light Meets Shadow by Shawna Reppert is an engaging mix of fantasy and romance. War nearly destroyed the culture of the Scathlan elves, and leftWhere Light Meets Shadow by Shawna Reppert is an engaging mix of fantasy and romance. War nearly destroyed the culture of the Scathlan elves, and left their queen in a comatose state. Kieran has been traveling the mortal lands in search of new songs and scraps of legend. There are tales of powerful bards who could heal with song. If he could find these songs, learn them, he may be able to save his queen.
Caught in a blizzard near the border of his enemies, the Leas elves, Kieran is discovered by a Leas hunting party. He falls from his horse and is badly injured. Convinced he is to be captured and/or killed, he draws his sword on the hunting party, but cannot stand to defend himself. The Leas carry him back to their stronghold in the mountains.
The differences between the Scathlan and Leas are marked. Dwelling in sun-splashed places, the Leas are as fair and bright as the Scathlan—who build underground—are dark. But they are both elves, and were once brothers and sisters. War between their peoples has destroyed this bond.
Convinced he is a captive, Kieran spurns the friendly overtures from the Leas ruler and his son, Alban. But after father and son work together to heal his injuries, then continue to treat him as a guest, he slowly begins to trust them. A friendship blooms between Kieran and Alban, and when they discover they have a mental bond, friendship develops into something more.
Together, during his convalescence, Kieran and Alban continue his bardic quest, looking for evidence of this magic, only to discover their bond could be the clue both of them have been missing. Healer and bard together, weaving their magic, can perform miracles. Together, Kieran and Alban may be able to wake the Scathlan queen. But while their bond proves the two peoples can work together, not everyone has forgotten the war the separated them.
I really enjoyed this story. The back story and world building are carefully layered throughout, creating a nice degree of immersion without overwhelming the reader. The plot is intriguing, and Kieran’s dedication to his people is both admirable and ultimately heartbreaking. He is a stand out character—well written, and utterly believable in his motivations. Kieran’s friendship with Alban grows so slowly and sweetly that when they chose to become lovers, the moment is incredibly special, which is absolutely fitting to the story and the plot. It makes what happens next all the more difficult to read. I was emotionally invested in these two and wanted to see them have at least a chance at a happy ever after. Their special names for each other—every time they used them, I smiled. One of the sweetest romances I’ve read in a while.
I found the pacing of the climax just a little choppy—but that could have been me madly flipping pages to see what happened next. I also would have liked a little more ‘road time’. I’m a fan of ‘the journey’ in fantasy novels, or adventures on the road. It’s easy to understand why Reppert didn’t dwell in the multiple journeys of her characters, however, as there is a lot of ground to cover and a couple of secrets to be kept from the reader.
Overall, Where Light Meets Shadow is an entertaining read. I’ve never read Shawna Reppert before, but I’m encouraged to check out her other books and would definitely be interested in reading more tales from this world. ...more
I didn’t actually read the synopsis of Zero World when I requested a copy for review. I had enjoyed Jason M. Hough’s Dire Earth series so much, I figuI didn’t actually read the synopsis of Zero World when I requested a copy for review. I had enjoyed Jason M. Hough’s Dire Earth series so much, I figured I’d like anything he wrote. I also hoped this would continue that story. I was wrong on one account and right on the other. Zero World introduces a new story and universe, but it’s just as compelling as Hough’s previous novels.
Peter Caswell is an assassin. He has a switch in his head, that when flipped, allows him to act almost without conscience, knowing that when he completes his assignment, he will be reset, forgetting any atrocities he may have committed. He begins each job as a rookie – remembering only his training and whatever skills he acquires in between.
His latest assignment will be the most interesting one he will ever forget. A lost spaceship has been found. He is sent to investigate and discovers it is full of bodies. But one crew member is missing, as is a landing pod. Caswell’s switch is flipped and he’s sent after her. In a second lander, he follows a preprogrammed course through a wormhole. On the other side he discovers a planet that looks just like Earth – except for the huge scar of craters across the middle. This duplicate planet only looks like Earth, however. Their culture is heavily influenced by this cratered scar which divides the continents into North and South. They speak English, but with market differences. They dress differently, and he cannot stomach any of their food.
Tracking his quarry in this alien landscape is already a test of Caswell’s skill and adaptability. He also has a time limit. He will reset in just fourteen days, six of which will be required for the journey back through the wormhole. If he forgets why he’s there, he may never get home.
This book is divided into four parts. I devoured the first part. Futuristic assassins equipped with techy gadgets set upon intergalactic mysteries? Sign me up. The second part was a little tougher to read. Hough introduces his second principle lead, another spy named Melni Tavan. I liked Melni and through her, formed an appreciation for the thought the author had put into creating the duplicate earth. Everything was just off. A different culture, a different social norm. For instance, women are dominant and men usually wear their hair long. It was like reading a book with 3D glasses. The focus was a little weird.
Eventually, Melni and Caswell run into one another, complicating their respective missions. Then, in the third part, THINGS HAPPEN. The truth of it all is revealed and it’s pretty cool. In the fourth part, Caswell reverts, forgetting everything, and he has to rely on Melni to complete his mission. What he doesn’t realise is that his mission parameters have changed.
Overall, I enjoyed Zero World. It was new and different. Caswell and Melni were extremely likeable characters. I did wonder when Melni was going to properly react to all the killing, but I did enjoy her propensity toward planning. A woman after my own heart. Caswell’s situation came with a lot of build in sympathy, and when he discovered the truth, I was fully invested in how he’d overcome the lie of his existence.
My one issue with Zero World would be with the overwhelming number of action scenes. The book is exciting in that Caswell and Melni are constantly running for their lives. But not a lot of plot elements hinge on these sequences. I got a little bored reading fight scene after fight scene, particularly as the plot is actually fairly simple. The magic lies in the big reveal, which could have come a little sooner, I think.
Still, it’s an entertaining read that introduces a diverse new universe, and while Zero World does work as a standalone novel, there is a lot of story left to tell.
A much more cohesive story than Falling and the chemistry between these two guys is smokin'. The plot got a little too complicated for me, though,3.5
A much more cohesive story than Falling and the chemistry between these two guys is smokin'. The plot got a little too complicated for me, though, and really slowed down the second half of the book. ...more