Zoe's Reviews > Curse of the Shadow Beasts

Curse of the Shadow Beasts by Christine Morgan
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's review
Jul 12, 10

bookshelves: fantasy, romance
Read from June 25 to July 12, 2010

Going into this story, I hit several hurdles that initially tempted me to set down the book. One of the antagonists is badly stereotyped, but then, so are the heroes. In this first mission, young thief and elfkin cutie Cat Sabledrake is looking for her elf mother, who might be imprisoned in an orc dungeon. Full time librarian and part-time magic-caster Arien Miridia agrees to go to the same castle because conveniently enough, there may be a library for him to raid. Let that sink in: "First floor, libraries and liches...ground floor; orcs and zombies...subfloor one; orc food and elf hostage, kept for no apparent reason other than to leave a potential plot line open."

However, the cliches scattered through the mission to search the castle of a liche archmage are only the first part of the book, and it does result in someone dying. Then the story's focus shifts over to the plight of Arien Miridia, the cursed and exiled elf who cannot love anyone without causing them certain doom.

A lot of this story is well written action set pieces that result in excuses for Arien to embrace Cat. The romance here is of the innocent variery; ie: "Oh no, we mustn't...but we might...but we can't!" The relationship progresses by the numbers, but it's clear by the last third that this isn't going to end in the couple being together. What happens is brief and not as emotionally satisfying given Arien's decisions after the curse is broken. Actually, it made him look like a bit of a jerk.

The action in the second third of the book pulls the story up to around 3.5 stars, but the ending costs it another half star. Curse of the Shadow Beasts should be fun for fantasy fans who are happy rereading familiar tropes, but if you get hung up on cliches, there are many potential snags to find here. The writing is solid, and the action scenes are scripted well enough to get readers into the fights.

This is also book one in the Magelore series, and lots of hooks were left open for the following books. So there is a chance for Cat and Arien to come back together for more romantic capers and misadventures. But for a book that seemed to work toward the theme of being a romantic fantasy, the ending wasn't very romantic, in my opinion.

I give Curse of the Shadow Beasts 3 stars and recommend it for fans of fantasy or light romance.
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