Catherine's Reviews > The Shadow Reader

The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams
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*4.5 Stars*

This book turned out to be quite the surprise. I can’t think of the last time I’ve gone from completely disliking a book to practically inhaling it. When I first picked up The Shadow Reader, I made it to page 30 before I finally gave up and set it aside. It was over a month before I picked it up again, and the only reason I did was because I wanted it off my reading queue.

I can’t say I was eager to dive back into it after disliking the beginning so much. One of my main complaints was the writing style. I was extremely turned off to find that this was in First Person, Present Tense, which was a huge strike against it. I know the POV is author’s choice, but I will never understand the draw of that style. It’s like nails on a chalkboard for me and the story has to be damn good to get me past that. The other thing that bothered me was how stilted and awkward I found the beginning. It was a little confusing being dropped into things like that, but I could have overcome that it if I had felt more of a spark. It just all combined into a generally bad experience.

And then something happened. I don’t know what. Either it got better or I was more prepared the second time around. I didn’t bother going back and rereading the first 30 pages—which I’m sure helped—I just jumped straight back in at Chapter Four. And I was hooked. The writing style still felt like a pebble in my shoe, but I found myself reluctantly intrigued by the heroine, McKenzie. I liked that she actually wanted to escape. To the bitter end this girl fought for her freedom. Even when she knew it was doomed for failure, she still got up and tried.

I have to appreciate that. Even when she found herself starting to question her loyalty to the Court and slowly becoming attracted to Aren, she didn’t stop. She knew that she couldn’t trust her decisions in a situation like that. When she started muttering to herself about Stockholm Syndrome I had to smile. It was refreshing to find a character that behaved in such a logical way. I don’t have anything against captive/captor relationships, but I find the willingness to trust someone who kidnapped you and who wants to use you pretty hard to swallow. Once they’re out of the situation and able to look at the situation objectively? Sure. But it’s hard to believe during the actual captivity since there’s such a big power imbalance between them. That’s why I loved McKenzie’s attitude. Even when she irritated me, I still liked her for being so believable.

When I sat and reflected on this book, I was pretty surprised to realize that it was not very action filled. It was actually pretty slow going. A lot of time is spent on the day to day of McKenzie’s captivity and Aren’s attempts to sway her to their side. But somehow it didn’t feel slow or mundane. The author packed too much emotion and conflict into the story for that. She was also smart to make her action scenes intense enough that they nicely balanced out the slower sections. Williams did a great job showing the disjointed, scattered feel of an actual fight. And she wasn’t afraid to give McKenzie some hard knocks. Quite a few times my eyes were like saucers, wondering if the author was actually going to go there. (The scene on pages 144 - 145 comes to mind) She made McKenzie’s captivity feel very real and uncertain, despite what was growing between her and Aren.

Speaking of the bond between them, I was impressed with how the author handled her feelings for both men in her life. I suppose it’s still a love triangle, but it was handled in a completely different way than UF’s usually do. I actually enjoyed it--*gasp!* McKenzie did not dance back and forth between the men, and when she made a decision she didn’t dither, despite how much it hurt. I completely respected the choice that she made. It may have taken her a while to gain the self respect she needed to take a hard look at what she deserved, but she did it. It was so refreshingly healthy! I’m hopeful that the author is going to stick with this and not feel the need to play the usual love triangle game with future books.

I am pleased to report that despite this being a series, the author resisted the urge to leave us on a cliffhanger. The plot of this book is resolved and so is the relationship, although there is still room for another book. Yay! I am really stoked about that. I am so sick and tired of cliffhangers. Besides, it wasn’t necessary to hook me into the second book. I am already wishing it was November so I could find out what happens next. If you haven’t given this book a try yet, I recommend you run out and get yourself a copy. :)

Favorite Quote:
My eyes shoot open when Kyol grabs my arm. Aren holds on a moment more, his lips and hands lingering as if this is his last breath. As if this is the only breath in his life that has ever mattered. Then his eyes lock with the sword-master.

“You have competition now.”

*Review originally posted on Fiction Vixen*
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Reading Progress

11/03/2011 page 11
4.0% "Another first person present tense POV. Blech. :(" 21 comments
01/10/2012 "Okay, here we go again. Hopefully attempt #2 goes better." 12 comments
01/10/2012 page 65
21.0% "

"I wouldn't touch you without permission," he says as he hops up to sit on the table beside me.

What the hell? "You always touch me without permission."

"I..." He stops, chuckles. "Well, yes. I guess I do."

"
01/10/2012 page 92
30.0% "Pretty intense fight scene. Everything felt confused and jumbled, like in a real attack."
01/10/2012 page 168
55.0% ""My eyes shoot open when Kyol grabs my arm. Aren holds on a moment more, his lips and hands lingering as if this is his last breath.""
01/10/2012 page 254
83.0% "That's quite the complication." 7 comments

Comments (showing 1-20 of 20) (20 new)

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message 1: by Juliana (new) - added it

Juliana Let me know this is! Not crazy about the love triangle aspect, but seems like an interesting read.


Catherine Will do!


Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead Juliana, Catherine, you must read this!!!


Catherine Yeah? Was it good? I'm hoping to get to it shortly.


Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead Catherine wrote: "Yeah? Was it good? I'm hoping to get to it shortly."

Not done yet but I'm absolutely loving it. It caught me from the beginning and there has been no letting go.


Catherine That's nice to hear! :)


Adrianna Seems like the buzz on this book is good ! This might have to be bumped up my TBR list...


Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead Adrianna wrote: "Seems like the buzz on this book is good ! This might have to be bumped up my TBR list..."

Yes, yes, yes! I'm still dancing...loved it.


Adrianna lol, I'll have to let you know what I think ...now i'm super excited.....


CJ - Drop Dead Cute You should skip the Hannah Jayne and just read this one ;)


Catherine CJ - Dancing on the head of a pin wrote: "You should skip the Hannah Jayne and just read this one ;)"

LOL. I've heard it's really good. I started reading it but wasn't in the mood for it so I put it aside. I'll be starting this one soon too.


Traci I agree with you about her constant need to fight for her freedom, that alone bought this book a star for me. I LOVE when a book has that gritty "realism". I was really impressed with this series starter


Catherine Traci wrote: "I agree with you about her constant need to fight for her freedom, that alone bought this book a star for me. I LOVE when a book has that gritty "realism". I was really impressed with this series s..."

I love that too. And it seems to be so damn rare.


Traci I know that what I read is mostly some genre of fantasy, but I like when some parts are done in a believable at least half ass, real-life way. Crazy I know, but hey that’s me! Haha. It really is a very rare tactic used lately though o_o


Catherine Traci wrote: "I know that what I read is mostly some genre of fantasy, but I like when some parts are done in a believable at least half ass, real-life way. Crazy I know, but hey that’s me! Haha. It really is a ..."

Haha! I really hope the author continues to add that touch of realism in the next book.


Annie (Under the Covers Book Blog) Great review, Catherine. I've been eyeing this one lately. May have to try it out!


Catherine Annie the Destroyer *Leather Lust* wrote: "Great review, Catherine. I've been eyeing this one lately. May have to try it out!"

I hope you enjoy it if you end up giving it a try!


Annie (Under the Covers Book Blog) Thanks Catherine!


Arielka OMG!! Just finished this book and I don't have any words to describe it. I LOVE IT!!


Catherine Arielka wrote: "OMG!! Just finished this book and I don't have any words to describe it. I LOVE IT!!"

I'm thrilled you enjoyed it too!


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