Lynsey • The Demon Librarian's Reviews > Shadowfell

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier
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Love, love, loved it!

This review will probably be rubbish and not do the book justice at all, for the simple fact that I was enjoying it so much that I actually forgot it was an ARC (for review read) and forgot to take ANY notes. Not. One. Single. Note. Normally, I keep a pad and pencil next to my eReader at all times and I'll jot down little scribbles whenever they come to me, but I was so engrossed, I forgot.


And, funnily enough, compared to other similar books of this genre, the book wasn't even particularly action-packed or fast-moving, so it wasn't that that had me flipping the pages. It was more that I was simply enchanted by it. By the world, the story and the writing. This is my first book by Marillier, but will definitely not be my last. Her writing style is immediately engaging, no doubt in part due to being in first person, which is quite unusual for this type of book.

Full confession time: this genre is fast becoming by own personal literary crack, I can't seem to get enough of it. So that will have upped my enjoyment and my rating because I was in my element, my happy place. It's a difficult genre to pin down, really. It's essentially a historical fantasy setting (in this case loosely based on a magical ancient Scotland) with lush world-building and a strong (either of magic, character or body) and often quite young, female main character, and usually has a slow-forming but very sweet romance. I may not know what the genre is called, but I know exactly who I would recommend it to. If you are a fan of any or all of the following, you should love this book.

Maria V. Snyder. (Study Series, Healer of Avry series)
Kristin Cashore. (Seven Kingdoms series)
R. L. LaFevers (His Fair assassin series)
Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass series)
Kristen Britain (Greed Rider series)

And probably more I'm forgetting or haven't 'met' myself yet.

I've seen from other reviewers who have had the pleasure of reading Marillier before, that this isn't even necessarily her best or most thrilling book, no doubt due to the aforementioned lack of action or solid conclusion. But it's a great opener for a series I'm now extremely excited about continuing. The main conflict of the story arc—the evil King Keldec and his mission to cull every town of anyone who has Canny magic (unless they work for him, of course) by whatever ruthless means necessary—is all still to come. It was only talked about in the abstract in this book because, as of yet, our brave young heroine—a girl called Neryn of almost 16 summers—isn't ready to face him. I would have had to suspend all disbelief if she were to have had a showdown with him in this book. This is no Mary Sue character and there was no Deus Ex Machina ending. She's not ready yet. She's on a journey, and it's only just begun.

At the start of the book, Neryn has just about lost everything and finds herself on her own and on the run. Help comes in the most unexpected of forms and there are many a challenge and test of wills along the way. Much like in the great fairy tales of the past, our heroine first has to prove her worth, have her mettle tested to breaking point, and that's exactly what this book shows us. Seeing these early stages of our heroine's growth, while she's still so young and even a little bit naive, will no doubt make seeing the rest of her journey that much more fulfilling.

Flint, who was the other main character out of the wide and varied cast, all of whom were vivid and essential, was a real treat. Not your typical hero by any means, but what an amazingly complex and conflicted character! I can't wait to see more of him.

Even lacking in action or any big, climactic ending as it was, this was not a boring book by any means, and I thoroughly enjoyed every page. There is a lot of time that Neryn is alone and travelling, but she's faced with constant challenges that kept me entertained. And then when Flint came on the scene...well, I was entertained for all kinds of different reasons then :)

Recommended to fans of all of the above authors, and to anyone who loved a good (and often rather gruesome) fairy tale as a child. Suitable for younger readers, but perfect for big kids too.

5 Stars ★★★★★
ARC provided for an honest review.

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Reading Progress

10/03/2012 page 50
10/03/2012 page 50
12.0% "Please, please, please be good. I've read so many disappointing books this week I can't take another one." 2 comments
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Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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message 1: by Yodamom (new)

Yodamom Fingers crossed.

Lynsey   • The Demon Librarian I really like it so far. It keeps reminding me of a Grimm's fairy tale with all the tests and challenges the brave young hero/heroine has to pass.

message 3: by Julie (new) - added it

Julie Awesome, I was hoping that was a good one. Glad to see you're past the funkiness :p

Lynsey   • The Demon Librarian Yes, no more Funky Town for me. Problem is, I can't quite seem to find the will to pick anything else up now. I just want to go back and devour the rest of Juliet Marilliers back catalogue but I have a stack of ARCs waiting to be read, and suddenly none of them look very appealing....what to do, what to do...... :(

Lisa {Silverlight} {Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Reviews} Whoa, this sounds great! I have it too, and I actually forgot about it, now you have me wanting to start it! I've been into fairy tales, lately and I've actually just picked up a Grimm's Fairy Tale book of assorted tales. This may just be my next read!

Lynsey   • The Demon Librarian Lisa wrote: "Whoa, this sounds great! I have it too, and I actually forgot about it, now you have me wanting to start it! I've been into fairy tales, lately and I've actually just picked up a Grimm's Fairy Tale..."

If you liked Throne of Glass's historical fantasy setting, you should like this too :)

message 7: by Monica (new) - added it

Monica Love your review, as always. Added this baby to my TBR. I love me some Snyder and Cashore, so this seems to be right up my alley.

Lynsey   • The Demon Librarian I think you'll love it then Monica. I already want to read it again! I found it very hard to move onto my next book because I didn't want to leave the world it was set in.

Carla *Jen7waters* Great recommendations! I love Poison Study :3

message 10: by Kristin (new)

Kristin You and Lisa have me excited for this :D Awesome review!!!

Wallene I agree with you wholeheartedly! I would add to your list of authors: Robin McKinley (The Blue Sword books).

Lynsey   • The Demon Librarian Ooooh! I've not read that! *runs of to check it out*

Lynsey   • The Demon Librarian I just looked; turns out I already had it on my very looooong TBR list!

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