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Of Silver and Shadow

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Ren Kolins is a silver wielder—a dangerous thing to be in the kingdom of Erdis, where magic has been outlawed for a century. Ren is just trying to survive, sticking to a life of petty thievery, card games, and pit fighting to get by. But when a wealthy rebel leader discovers her secret, he offers her a fortune to join his revolution. The caveat: she won’t see a single coin until they overthrow the King.

Behind the castle walls, a brutal group of warriors known as the King’s Children is engaged in a competition: the first to find the rebel leader will be made King’s Fang, the right hand of the King of Erdis. And Adley Farre is hunting down the rebels one by one, torturing her way to Ren and the rebel leader, and the coveted King’s Fang title.

But time is running out for all of them, including the youngest Prince of Erdis, who finds himself pulled into the rebellion. Political tensions have reached a boiling point, and Ren and the rebels must take the throne before war breaks out.

480 pages, Paperback

First published February 16, 2021

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About the author

Jennifer Gruenke

1 book133 followers
Jennifer Gruenke is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara, where she studied communication and writing. She grew up among the redwoods of Northern California, and now lives in Charlotte with her books and the houseplants she hasn't killed yet. If she's not writing or reading, you're most likely to find her in a cafe, music venue, or the aisles of Trader Joe's. OF SILVER AND SHADOW is her debut novel.

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5 stars
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278 (41%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 367 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,064 reviews38.1k followers
July 30, 2021
Well, another book I had conflicted feelings about it so I will summarize my thoughts with pros and cons right now to be fair:

Pros: Story-telling is fast pacing, intriguing and stick to the point, straightforward, not much meandering and stalling, action-packed, keeping your attention intact. Ren is one of the last silver wielders of the country hesitates to be a part of rebellious action against the king as Kellen tries to endure his life, living with his brother and his king father, Darek wants to keep his promise to his mother by fighting against the kingdom and seeing it burned into ashes and Adley wants to get rid of the rebel leader to earn her freedom. So four different characters’ stories intertwine and collapse into each other.

World building is also complex, satisfying, thought provoking, reflecting the class differences, the glamorous life the rich people have with their fancy houses and poor people suffer as they live at their old, dilapidated places.

Ending of the story: Still giving you hope and you want to read more so I’d pleased to read another book sooner.

Cons: Actually I loved the characterization but main characters’ lack of chemistry and their immature fights a little bit disturbed me. Yes, I talk about Ren and douchebag Darek (normally this character is not created as a villain but at the beginning it’s hard to accept his manners and animosity around Ren) and Ren was sarcastic queen but sometimes dosage of her mockery was too much to handle.

I liked Kellen’s story more and of course it’s so easy to empathize this character, has still genuine heart, trying to find his way in the kingdom, sneaking away at night, wandering around the city.

And of course Adley and Lesa’s romance was heartwarming and more realistic than our MCs have.

Overall: There are more ups than downs and I enjoy this installment with its witty and unique writing, great world building and amazing supporting characters so let’s round up 3.5 stars to 4 before getting out of here and waiting for the next one!

Special thanks to NetGalley and North Star Editions/Flux for sharing this interesting ARC in exchange my honest review.
Profile Image for Bhavya .
476 reviews820 followers
July 15, 2022
“The mask has its appeal, but personally, I think it’s what’s underneath that counts.”


~Rating- 3 stars~

Content/ Trigger Warnings-Sexism, Blood & gore depiction, Lots of violence (on page), Alcoholism, Physical injury (including eyeball trauma), Death of a parent (mentioned), Executions, Gun violence, Stabbing, Murder, Poverty themes, Fire, Mentions of Suicide, Mentions of Slavery, Child Abandonment, Swearing, Grey-Area Cheating (on page), Gambling (on page)

Note- I have tried to include all the content warnings that I noticed, but there is no guarantee that I haven’t missed something.

-Mention of some of these in the review-

Of Silver and Shadow by Jennifer Gruenke is a dark YA fantasy with well developed characters and an interesting plot. While there were a lot of elements I enjoyed, I felt this book lacked a unique aspect. This book felt like several YA books I’ve read before, and there wasn’t much in this book to make it stand out. However, it was still an enjoyable read.

Note- This review is extremely long, and has some very minor spoilers. I am sorry for using a lot of quotes here, but there were too many good ones and I didn’t want to remove any. It was so hard to fit everything in the space given, as I had 10 pages of annotated notes.

“Books became more than just stories. They were a reminder that the whole world wasn’t a bleak tapestry of violence, and while she might never see anything beautiful again, at least she could read about kinder things. It was easier to breathe between the pages of a book.”



Ren Kolins is a silver wielder in the kingdom of Erdis, where magic has been outlawed for a century. Ren is just trying to survive, sticking to a life of petty thievery, card games, and pit fighting to get by and does not care at all about the politics of her country. But when a wealthy rebel leader discovers her secret, he offers her a fortune to join his revolution.

“People still tell stories about magic, you know. If you show them that the Lyandors aren’t the only wielders still here—that you’re still here—you could very well start a revolution.”


Behind the castle walls, a brutal group of warriors known as the King’s Children are engaged in a competition, where the first to find the rebel leader will be made King’s Fang, the right hand of the King of Erdis. Adley Farre is hunting down the rebels one by one, torturing her way to Ren and the rebel leader, to be appointed King’s Fang title. It's her only chance at freedom.

“She [Adley] wasn’t going to let him steal her one chance at freedom, at happiness, at righting all the wrong she’d done.”


Time is running out for all of them, including the youngest Prince of Erdis, who finds himself pulled into the rebellion. Political tensions have reached a boiling point, and Ren and the rebels must take the throne before war breaks out.

“None of us are good people. We’ve all done things we’re not proud of. We’ve all made mistakes. Your demons might be louder than mine, but we each have one or two hanging around. We’re all just people, Ren. We’re doing our best.”





The plot of the book was intriguing. I loved the concept of the Sliver Wielders and the King's Children and I felt it was executed well. It was quite typical YA, and it was similar to Six of Crows and Red Queen in some ways. If you are a fan of these series, I think you will enjoy this book.

The middle of the book was paced well, and this is a generally fast paced book. There were plot twists in this book which had some foreshadowing, but they didn't really surprise me. I felt the ending was an ok conclusion, but everything was very rushed through. This was a standalone, but I think it would have been better as a series.

“The story might have been erased from the history books, but it was as well-known as any folk tale. A century ago, King Tallis Lyandor, a wielder himself, had been so terrified of losing power that he’d outlawed the use of magic by anyone but the royal family. He’d sent his armies across Erdis, burning villages of wielders, hanging magical families, beheading anyone caught fleeing. The Silver Purge was the reason the only magic left in the kingdom belonged to the crown, why the only silver wielders in the past one hundred years had been Lyandors.”





The world building of this book was great. I enjoyed seeing this world and am happy with the way it was developed. For a standalone, it was a lot better than I expected.

“The people said what they would about the king and his Children, but there was no denying that their training was effective.”


I loved the idea of The King's Children. It was my favourite part of the world.


“The gods forgive,” she said. “So should you.”






The writing was definitely the best part of the book. It was beautiful and flowed together very well and I am looking forward to reading more books by Jennifer Gruenke.


The main complaint I have is that the beginning of the book was very abrupt, to the point where I thought some pages from my book were missing. It starts off like this-

"The player slapped his cards against the table, leaned back in his chair and grinned."



I found this a very odd way to start, as there is no build up to the scene. I am not saying that the beginning of the book can't be something that throws us off guard, but there was no bigger purpose to this over here.

Ren’s leather corset is also mentioned several times in the book, which was very annoying.

“Let yourself feel it. (...) The pain. You need to let yourself feel it. If you don’t, you’ll never let it go. If you shove the pain away, if you ignore it, you won’t move past it. (...) Feel it. Don’t make yourself numb.”





The characters were well written and I liked all 4 of the perspectives. I hope we see them again if there is a sequel.


◙ Ren

“Silver is a part of me. I was born with it. I guess I just think about it like any other part of my body. I tell it what I want it to do, and it does it.”


Ren was an interesting character who strongly reminded me of Kaz from Six of Crows. She’s strong and fierce and knows how to hold her ground. I didn’t like the fact that she hardly had any flaws and that in some ways she was unbeatable. I wish her magic came at some price.

“but assurances and soft smiles were kindnesses Ren didn’t deserve. She was terrible and rusted. She was the kind of thing that gave you an infection if you were unlucky enough to scratch yourself on its edges”


I liked the way her arc progressed throughout the book. There was quite a lot of character development and it was great to see.

“She was not a delicate cherry blossom drifting down from the trees on a spring breeze. She was more like the storm that upended the cherry tree, the kind of person who wasn’t satisfied unless she was putting her fist through something.”


◙ Darek

“I can’t say the rebellion isn’t important to me. Since my mother died, it’s one of the only things that’s mattered.”


Darek is one of the leaders of the rebellion. He is short-tempered but kind. Personally, he was my least favourite character in the book. I think he was written well, but he was not as interesting as the rest of the characters. I wish we got a bit more development with him.

“An Erdis free of the Lyandor rule was my mother’s dream. I’m just trying to finish what she started.”


◙ Adley

“That was the problem with Ethen and all the men like him. He thought because she was quiet, because she liked books and the way flowers blossomed on the hills in spring, because she was a girl, he could dismiss her as frivolous and unimportant. Weak. He was wrong.”


Adley was my favourite character in this book. I loved how morally grey she was and I loved how she hid her heart behind a mask.

“She’d never enjoyed inflicting pain, enjoyed carrying that pain to a final, irreversible end even less. Every time she did it, she wished she could take it back.”


I loved that she was an archer, as I don’t see that often in a YA book. Her relationship with Lesa was beautiful to see.

“The crown had made her what she was.
A lethal weapon. An archer who didn’t miss.”


◙ Kellen

“Kellen recognized that he was a prince, and princes didn’t have the luxury of love.”


Kellen is the black sheep of his family, the second prince, the one neglected his entire life. He was my second favourite character in this book. I loved his arc- a prince with a soft heart living a double life as a pit lord.

“When Kellen wore the mask of pit lord, he usually succeeded for a few hours in convincing himself he was someone he wasn’t, someone cold and malicious. But then he’d take the mask off. He’d come back to the castle and find he was still the same kid his mother had raised and tossed aside when he no longer suited her tastes. Kellen wished Heath would tell him how he was supposed to stop being soft, how he was supposed to tear his beating heart from his body and discard it like a broken toy. How he was supposed to stop being him.”


It’s clear he still loves his family despite the way they treat him, and it broke my heart a little to see the way his family constantly considered him a disappointment. His character arc was very engaging to read.

“[He] heard his brother’s words. They sounded in his ear. He felt the heat of them as close as a whisper. Stop being so soft. Then his father’s voice was there, too, seething with contempt. Nineteen years of criticism. Two decades of failure. Their voices bled together, pouring into his head like a vein that had been ripped open, and there was no staunching the flow. It kept coming, and it seemed like it was never going to stop, and Kellen just wanted peace. That was all. Just a little peace.”


◙ Freya

“Freya was more idealistic than a kid who’d grown up in the slums had any right to be.”


Freya is Ren’s best friend. She is a very minor character, but I liked the role she played. If there is a sequel, I am looking forward to seeing her again.

“There was a steadiness about Freya, something in her that a drowning person could grab on to and stay afloat.”


◙ Holland

I liked Holland as a character. She is another minor character that doesn’t play a big role in the story, but it was nice seeing her.

“You may be a prince, but I will not tolerate being treated as an inferior. I am your equal.”


I liked her relationship with Kellen, though I feel they share a complicated bond.




--- Character Dynamics & Relationships

~ Character Dynamics

“Some things are worth the pain.”



◙ Kellen & Adley

“(...) she was as talented at killing as the rest of the King’s Children, there was something different about her. It was like she’d managed to hold on to a shred of warmth despite her training, which was intended to render her as cold as the mountains of Glynn. She hid her heart well, but Kellen suspected it was still there.”


Kellen and Adley are friendship goals! Both of these characters are very morally grey, which made their dynamic a lot more entertaining to see. They were struggling with their true inner self and bonded alongside. I loved their relationship.

“It was a shame Kellen wasn’t set to inherit the throne. This country would be a better place with him as king. Maybe if more kings were a little more like Kellen and a little less like his father, there wouldn’t be a need for King’s Children at all.”


◙ Ren & Freya

Ren and Freya share such a beautiful friendship.

“I’m always concerned about Ren. It’s a natural state of existence when you’re friends with her.”


They clearly love and care about each other, and it was heart-touching to read.

◙ Ren & Holland

Ren and Holland have a complicated relationship, and if this was a series then their gradual friendship would have been amazing to see!

“Alone, both girls were their own forces of nature. Together, they might very well be cataclysmic.”


Regardless, I still liked their bond.

~ The Romantic Relationships

“Books are written about romances such as these,”



◙ Adley & Lesa

“Lesa knew as well as Adley why it had to be this way. They were King’s Children; they were forbidden to love. If they fell in love—with each other or anyone else—the crime would be punished by death. Their feelings were embers and needed to be stomped out, not stoked into an uncontrollable fire.”


Adley and Lesa are a very well written forbidden romance. They are both King’s children and hence forbidden to love.

“They were so different. Lesa was hard, and Adley was soft. Lesa didn’t care enough, and Adley cared too much. And maybe if they had met in any other circumstances, they never would have wound up wrapped around one another. But somewhere along the way, things had slid into place.”


I loved their relationship. As I mentioned, Adley is my favourite character in this book, and seeing her with Lesa made me happy.

“Her life had gone so horribly wrong, but with Lesa, one thing had gone right. Maybe it was luck or a small mercy from the gods that she’d found someone who cared about her in a place where it shouldn’t have been possible.”


◙ Ren & Darek

“Ren didn’t want to get into the way Darek had reached inside her and pulled at all the wrong threads. She didn’t want to admit that it had stung. She hated him. For bringing her into a budding revolution, for putting so much weight on her shoulders, for voicing every ugly thought she’d ever had about herself.”


Ren and Derek were an enemies to lovers- or to put it better, rivals to lovers romance. While I didn't love their relationship, I was ok with it.

“But Darek had thought maybe when they spoke she would show a hint of compassion, an indication that she cared about more than stolen jewels and card games—something resembling decency. Anything. He’d hoped she’d surprise him.
She hadn’t.
The only language she seemed to speak was one of greed and gold.”


I wish their relationship was a bit more of a slow burn as that would have made things more entertaining. They had some banter, but most of it wasn't that fun to read. It seemed a lot more like a petty disagreement than actual romantic tension.

“Darek thought he’d had Ren figured out, but he was starting to realize she was not as unshakeable as she pretended to be. He didn’t know if the fire had done it, or if the streets were to blame, or if she was tearing herself apart because she thought she deserved the pain, but there was something a little bit broken inside of her.”


◙ Kellen & Holland

I liked Kellen & Holland as a couple, but I think their relationship is very complicated. I'm not 100% sold on their relationship.

“Whenever he was with Holland, he forgot about everything plaguing his mind, his shortcomings and failures. With her, he didn’t have to try to be someone he wasn’t, to be something more than simply himself. He wasn’t a prince or a pit lord. He was just Kellen, whoever that was. She didn’t ask anything more of him than that.”



Audiobook Comments

I loved the audiobook narration. All the parts were well narrated. Would recommend the audiobook.

Overall, Of Silver and Shadow was a compelling read and I would recommend it if you are looking for an entertaining dark fantasy.

“Why does anyone look at art? Perhaps it makes her feel a little less alone.”



Review written and uploaded on 22nd July, 2021.

Storygraph Review. Storygraph. Spotify. Youtube. Pinterest. Linktree

DISCLAIMER-All opinions on books I’ve read and reviewed are my own, and are with no intention to offend anyone. If you feel offended by my reviews, let me know how I can fix it.

How I Rate-
1 star- Hardly liked anything/ was disappointed
2 star- Had potential but did not deliver/ was disappointed
3 stars- Was ok but could have been better/ was average / Enjoyed a lot but something was missing
4 stars- Loved a lot but something was missing
5 stars- Loved it/ new favourite


.................................

Finished. 3 stars I think. Review to come soon. I promise I’ll get it out by next week.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,475 reviews29.6k followers
March 7, 2021
a rag-tag team of rebels trying to overthrow a government that has attempted to eradicate magic is not a groundbreaking idea in YA fantasy, so i cant really say this book adds anything new to the genre.

i think most readers will find themselves sticking around for the characters. there are so many good relationships, friendships, and sibling connections in this. i honestly dont think there was a character i disliked, which is impressive considering how may POVs there are. they are definitely the backbone of this story.

i do wish the world-building was stronger, as some aspects of the story (like the magic itself) feel empty and lacking. also, there are a few components of the plot that feel unresolved, which is odd considering this is a standalone?

but this is an overall enjoyable fantasy story with fun characters and easy-going writing.

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink.
257 reviews4,850 followers
Read
November 7, 2019
YOU GUYS YOU GUYS AHHHHHH. Look at the cover!




Trust me! You'll want to add this book!!

Jenn was my very first critique partner. Like, ever. And I've had the unique privilege of seeing this book from its very first drafts - all the way into the beauty it is now. And I can't wait for everyone to read it!

AND LET THE RECORD SHOW THAT I SAW KELLEN FIRST.

That is all.
Profile Image for aly ☆彡 .
336 reviews886 followers
September 25, 2022
☆☆☆/5
tw: violence, gore

Meet,
Ren, an orphan silver wielder who's trying to survive sticking to a life of petty thievery, card games, and pit fighting to get by.

Darek, head of the rebellion who's trying to fulfil his mother's last wishes to overthrow the evil and powerful King of Edris.

Adley, a brutal King's Child who is vehement to hunt the rebellion group in exchange for a spot as the King's Fang.

And lastly, the castle prince, Kellen, the black sheep of the family who's living his double life as the lord pit.

This book offers readers with multi-POVs which pique my interest to read as soon as I read the summary. The writing is pretty straightforward and easy to read. It's fast-paced and engaging but after some time, I felt kind of bored because it feels too long and flat. And I almost felt like the multi-POVs may not work for me anymore as some information seems repetitive and lost.

Also, in the summary, it mentioned that:

"But time is running out for all of them, including the youngest Prince of Erdis, who finds himself pulled into the rebellion"


Therefore, I was expecting some kind of found family trope(?) but everyone only became each other's alliances towards the finale, which also left the ending somewhat unestablished, consequently made the whole book a bit disappointing to me.

I love Ren who is anti-heroine, eccentric and non-committal. She had this hard exterior; a shield to cover what she had been through, making it easier to sympathize with her. But I am not digging into the chemistry between him and Darek. Their relationship is supposed to be some kind of enemies to lovers but somehow was poorly executed. Their exchange often felt childish, making their dynamic rather below par. They were bickering for as long as I can remember (with less sexual tension), so it feels underwhelming the time they declare love for one another.

I felt more akin towards Adley and Lesa and enjoy reading their forbidden love. The only thing I hated when it comes to their POVs was the endless violence. It was so gore and graphic, I wish the author could turn it down. But other than that, I like to see Adley battling for her humanity, while also trying to fill in her role as the King's Children that were infamous for their skills and brutality.

Meanwhile Kellen ? Just someone who needed to be protected at all costs! The conflict of having such a merciless father, power-thirst brother and a slacker of a mother who seems to not care and relieve of their role as a mother, is rather pitiful and heartbreaking. Yet you can feel his compassion and love towards them. You'll see him trying to fight for what he believed was right despite always getting ridiculed and outcasted... making him my most favourite character. It just left me in awe. Kellen, you have my endless love and support.

And all the emotionally charged scenes that push characters to their limits as Jennifer Gruenke mentioned were well done when it comes to Ren, Adley and Kellen, simultaneously giving readers an understanding of their complexity. And I like that it helps to make me feel more connected towards these characters.

Even so, this was an average read for me. It's pretty straightforward and fast-paced but if the author could make it more concise and less dreary, that would definitely be better. I'm not sure if the ending was supposed to wrap it all (because that was a poor one if so) even though I could not see where the book was supposed to go more afterwards. But it would still be cool if the author decided to give us a sequel.
Profile Image for NAT.orious reads ☾.
815 reviews322 followers
February 27, 2020
3.25 STARS in the shadow ★★★✩✩
This book is for you if… over the top banter that should be labelled 'cruel battle of words' does not taint the originality of a story for you. There's some heartbreaking truth to many of the narratives that might make this a better read for others than it was for me.

Overall.
Fine, I admit it. It did get better after a while. All in all, this read is a disappointment nonetheless. My hopes were sky-high. Of Silver and Shadow was not a great book for me, I perceive it to be slow and unchallenging in the beginning, and the rising thrill that follows the dry season couldn't entirely make up for it. This probably caused me some difficulties settling into this universe. It bothers me that I have very little good to say about this book. Expectations shattered, hopes lost. Welcome to my reading reality.

Let's continue with some of the good stuff, shall we? The best of them: the cute and secret but very gay love story that did not get enough on-page time (This doesn't sound like a positive remark, but I luuuuuuved it). I stan Adley and Lesa, who, albeit leading a bloody life, and not by choice, are beautiful and pure in their love for each other. I enjoyed the many POVs, which offered a multidimensional view on the plot and made for a deeper understanding of all the different dynamics that shape the course of the book. They also enable the reader to get a better knowledge of the characters. Very individual in their characteristics and manners they make for an interesting 'squad' if the formation can be labelled that. Some of the dialogues they had are hilarious, I at least smirked at several of them.

Others, however, aimed to pose as exciting banter, are way too cruel to be called that. I'm unsure whether this was intentional or just the result of trying too hard, but it definitely didn't help my enjoyment of the book. And do you know those 'he let out a breath, releasing tension he didn't know was there' phrases? Be ready for plenty of those. Bloody exhausting.

Guys, I just dunno. I want to like this book, but I decided to not go with the flow just because Goodreads seems to love it. Did that once with Aurora Rising and it was an empowering thing to do. Come over to the dark side, we have honest reviews and cookies (I'm reallly good at baking).

What’s happening.
‘Ren was last to take a seat. She tapped the deck against the table. They made her swear not to cheat, but what would be the fun in that?’

Ren has become so good at this game she can't remember the last time she played with open cards. But when rebels approach her and offer her an awful lot of money in exchange for support for their mission, she sees her dream of being free of this half-life in close reach. If it weren't for the rebel leader Darek, a brooding and dark do-gooder.
Con:
ferocious soldiers on their heels
two hot-heads make for icy atmosphere
enemies around every corner
Pro:
unlikely allies
two hot-heads make for lots of looks
each fight brings new improvements

_____________________
writing quality + easy of reading
= 4*

pace = 3*

plot/story in general = 4*

plot development = 3.5*

characters = 3*

enjoyability = 3*

insightfulness = 3*
_____________________
Many thanks to Flux and the author Jennifer Gruenke, who provided me with this eArc in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley.
Profile Image for Athena (OneReadingNurse).
648 reviews90 followers
February 12, 2021
***It was just announced by Flux books that the release date has been pushed back to Feb 16 2021, but you can still preorder it😭***

Thank you so much to North Star Editions: Flux for the digital arc via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own!

Magic in the form of Silver has been outlawed in the country of Erdis for years.  The Kingdom's bloody history includes a huge genocide of magic wielders and a systematic eradication of trade routes and immigration from areas where refugees fled.  The King is a murderous bastard, the crown prince is even worse, and the youngest prince is the snarky one that wants nothing to do with royalty.  He reminded me of Nikolai except he's a pit lord, not a privateer.

The rebellion is seeking to overthrow the crown and has been planting seeds to do so since before Darek (this generation's rebel  leader) and Ren were born.  The characters are pretty well described in the summary.  There is a lot of squabbling (or sexual tension) between a few of them, but the book has a lot of quite well done banter.  I just kept being reminded of Nikolai with the whole second prince syndrome.

Silver is just an innate ability like fire wielding or any other mage ability.  It seems to be the only magical ability in the kingdom.  Silver can be used for anything from lockpicking to torture to making a giant silver lion appear - like an illusion with substance.  The king uses it to torture people while Ren picks locks and destroys ships... I felt like we were deprived of a good mage fight.  I wanted to see silver vs silver in combat.  While it is a simple enough magic system, and a cool ability, it's a bit underdeveloped.  Hopefully there will be more explanation in book two.

The world building is really excellent in some places.  The descriptions of the city, buildings, river, mood, political structure, and tension in the city were real.  We even got to see the festival, some food, and see some music and entertainment.   The characters used English slang though, in high quantity.  It isn't a bad thing but I forgot this was a YA book while reading. There actually isn't a lot of magic since only the Royalty and Ren wield it now, and seeing as there wasn't other magic described in the world.... This isn't quite low fantasy but the fantastical aspect is limited to silver wielding.

Speaking of age appropriateness: the tortures used in the book aren't for the fainthearted!  I enjoyed reading a book with some teeth, but kind of had it in my head that I was reading an adult fantasy.  I enjoyed it though. Flaying skin and muscle, blood and arrows stabbed and sliced in unconventional ways, courtesy of Adley and Lesa.  I cringed a few times during torture scenes😳 As long as I'm talking about those two, they are a pair of women but the worst that they do is pine and kiss and pine some more.  Otherwise for romance, two characters hook up off page.  I kind of feel like if we get to read about Adley flaying off a guy's skin, we could have read about Darek in bed, but to each their own.

The pacing of the entire book was good, fast, and then the last maybe 100 pages were BREAKNECK!! I could not put it down!

All in all I think older teens and young adults are a good audience for the book.  I actually enjoyed it as an adult. The most eye-rolling thing that happened was how often the two coupled pairs eyed each other before getting it over with, but some scenes definitely require a slightly more mature audience.

My original instinct was 5 stars for the last part of the book being so amazing, but overall I will go with a strong, strong four.  Thank you again to the publisher for the advanced read!
Profile Image for Jennifer Gruenke.
Author 1 book133 followers
April 8, 2020
Update: Because of the pandemic, the release of this book has been pushed back to February 16, 2021.

///

Since the cover is finally here (!!) a couple details about OF SILVER AND SHADOW:

- It's a true multi-perspective novel with four different POVs
- It's upper YA that would fit well into a crossover category if that existed in traditional publishing
- The setting is fairly dark and gritty
- Tropes include hate-to-love and forbidden lovers

I can't wait for you to read it in May!
Profile Image for Kenzie The Dragon Queen.
241 reviews471 followers
May 20, 2020
Update: May 19th 2020
This book's release date seems to have officially been changed. Instead of being released later this month, it will be released on February 16th 2021, as far as I know.


First of all, I'd like to thank NetGalley, Jennifer Gruenke, and Flux, for the amazing opportunity I've been given to read this book so many months before its release. I received a free digital advanced reading copy (ARC) by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Original Release Date: May 26th 2020
Updated Release Date: February 16th 2021




Of Silver and Shadow was a fast paced and entertaining novel, and it was easy to read and enjoy. That being said, it was nothing special compared to countless other young adult fantasy novels that contain the overused "revolution/resistance" trope.



The Characters


Ren:
She comes across as a poor copy-cat of characters the likes of Lou LeBlanc (Serpent & Dove), Lila Bard (Shades of Magic), and Celaena Sardothien (Throne of Glass). Ren wasn't as fleshed out as I hoped she'd be, and came across as the “has it all” character. When I say "has it all" I mean that she is just too good at too many things, without paying for it in some way, or having enough flaws or faults to account for it. Of course she has her demons, the exact same demons that 95% of all YA protagonists have: dead parents. She wins every fight she's in, she's a great thief, great magic wielder, and great at hustling people, despite having no mentorship or training. She's also beautiful. She's very thin, and very tall, and yet her corset is mentioned in every other chapter because she must have curves too? I was really hoping for more from her. Her wit was a nice touch, but it didn't differentiate her much from any other character I've read about that's had a sense of dark humour and a decent brain. Although she's an okay main character overall, she lacked serious depth, and proper incentive.


Darek:
All in all, I found him to be a bland character. He doesn’t come across as being as boring as the usual “tall, dark, and brooding” male characters you often find in any number of books, but he easily fits into that category. He doesn’t break the mould of that type of character either, and falls flat in many areas. I found him to be the least compelling character of the main four.


Adley:
Adley was a very interesting character in subtle manner, with a more delicately crafted personality. She's strong and soft in obvious, and less obvious ways. I found her background and interactions with other characters fascinating, as she is a character that walks the fine line of brutality and kindness warily and stealthily. She carries the burden of love, and the hope of freedom.


Kellen:
Kellen is probably my favorite character, with Adley in second. He was entertaining, yet tame in temper. He fell into the roll of sarcastic and charming prince easily, but soon revealed himself to have a softer and very compassionate side, that added depth and dimension to his character. His interactions with almost every character were always engaging, especially those with Ren, Adley, or his brother. He’s far more fascinating than almost every other character, with the exception of Adley, who was equally intriguing.



Story/Plot


Cons:
Straightforward and simple, this story is nothing special among the ranks of the typical YA fantasy genre. Everything from the silver that’s supposed to be so interesting (but isn’t), all the way to the run of the mill resistance, it’s completely unoriginal, and lacklustre. You could pick this same plot premise out of thousands.

There is also some inconsistency involved whenever characters get into fights. At one point a character could have great difficulty taking out a single measly opponent, and then later on, for no apparent reason, they can take out multiple opponents of the same strength level easily, all at once, without getting injured.


Pros:
On the plus side, the small plot twists throw in throughout the novel were well crafted and satisfying, they served a purpose in moving the story forward, and further developing the plot and characters. They were well constructed overall, but not ground-breaking.

I will also say that perhaps the story wasn't too original because it's possible that the author didn't want us (the readers) to be too overwhelmed with all the magical lore, a vast map, etc. because this is a fairly fast paced novel, and that sort of thing could have gotten lost or overlooked.



Writing


The writing was solid, fast paced, and easy to follow. I rarely mistook one character’s POV for another. The nature of the storytelling was entertaining, and kept me hooked. Though I do thank the fast paced nature of the book for that, it made certain sections feel rushed.



World Building


The world building was simplistic at best, and seriously lacking at worst. The city of Denfall is blank and unoriginal, and the country that it exists in, gets even less description. We learn very little about the rest of the world, even though this country is supposedly on the brink of war. However, we (the readers) do learn enough about the rest of the world that we don't particularly need to know more.

The magic system is virtually nonexistent. Silver is in essence, just plain magic, and nothing else. There are no visible limitations or defining characteristics to it, and very little to flesh it out into something even vaguely unique.



The Romance


The central romance was mildly interesting at best. It felt more then a little rushed to me, which gave it a hollow feeling. The characters seemed to “fall for each other” more because the plot demanded it, and less because it actually made any sense. Furthermore, if the central romance was absent from the story completely, it would have barely impacted the plot as a whole. A disappointment, that lacked chemistry. It fell flat, and lost my interest. Which I really hate to say, because technically it's an "enemies to lovers" romance (which I love), but it was so void of passion, and so bland and rushed, that it didn't really feel like a proper "enemies to lovers" to me.

There is a secondary f/f romance among two different characters, that actually is directly impacted by the plot, and I found that one a bit more interesting than the central romance. Although I thought it was better written, I still didn't feel particularly attached to it, and probably wouldn't have much cared if the characters separated, even though I like both characters.



Verdict


Overall, this book certainly had its flaws, and I found the very ending to be a bit of a letdown in some capacity. I guess I won't know how I really feel about that ending until the sequel(s), if there are any.

All in all, I had a really good time reading this book. It was always an entertaining, faced paced, page turner, and that's why I like it! Since, it really is hard to create a book like that, I applaud the author. So, because this novel was so genuinely entertaining, I will recommend that you give it a chance and decide if you like it for yourself.



3/5 stars (three stars out of five)




——————————————————————




I have an ARC for this beautiful looking novel, provided generously by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I’m super psyched to have an ARC of this book! Everything from the premise to the cover, had me counting down the days to its release, weeks before I even got an advanced reading copy for it.

I can’t wait to read this beauty as soon as possible, and give it my undivided attention.

Thank you NetGalley, Jennifer Gruenke, and Flux!
Profile Image for AJ.
240 reviews92 followers
February 20, 2021
“But Markus was their mother’s son. Rebellion swam in his blood”

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wow! That’s all I can say for a moment... Ok
I’m back haha. I actually stayed up late to keep reading this! This book was amazing. I love how the story dives into action from the very beginning and the world descriptions were beautiful! I thought the concept of “The King’s Children” was creative and very interesting. The magic was amazing, the characters were phenomenal and I enjoyed each POV - Darek gave me serious Rowan Whitethorn vibes when we first met him haha

If you read my reviews you know how much I love slowburns, forbidden romances and the enemy-to-lover scenarios which this book tackled beautifully haha. I love when I can
Actually enjoy the main character(s) without wanting to strangle them. Ren was probably my favorite. she was awesome!

This book also made me laugh. I love banter and this story had plenty of it. That made me smile in the way that The Gilded Wolves did.

This book is amazing and I beg everyone to read it in May!

5/5 🌟’s
Profile Image for Mariah.
1,142 reviews442 followers
January 24, 2020
ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley.

I must admit I walked into this world expecting a little more.
"Of Silver and Shadow" unfortunately got lost for me in the endless pile of revolution/motley crew of misfits seeking to do X, Y or Z.

The book delves straight away into the main story arc, and while that could've resulted in a fast paced adventure, I kept waiting to feel that connection to the characters but it never happened. The writing seemed specially abrupt in the beggining as well. The negotiation of Ren's pay out was very rushed, and wasn't very convincing, even for YA.

I never got a full grasp on what "silver wielding" actually means. I understand that given the circumstances of magic being outlawed, Ren never had access to any form of education when it comes to her abilities - but I expected at least some explanation. Some times it seems to have actual metallic characteristics but most of the time it seems to just be the name for the telekineses she displays. Some times the silver is also referred to as almost sentient? I feel like I read an almost 500 page book about a silver wielder but somehow still don't really understand what it is.

The enemies to lovers trope is one I usually thoroughly enjoy, but the dialogue and exchanges didn't really convince me. I also wondered just how many times there had to be mentions of Ren's corset.

Weirdly enough, there was some dialogue that seemed very derivative of other works. Especially some exchanges between Ren and Darek - the "displeasure of meeting" and "barely tolerable" scenes instantly placed me in dialogue had by Lizzie Bennet and Mr. Darcy in Pride & Prejudice (2005 film), to name a couple.

Things really fell apart for me towards the end. Some concepts where introduced so late in the story that they lacked credibility. While the story didn't have a satisfactory enough conclusion to establish it as a stand alone, I don't really see a point in a sequel.

The world and characters have a lot of potential and I wish the story in this book had been split into two, giving us more time to get to know the characters and forge stronger connections to them. World building is such a delicate process and I kept wanting to know more about Erdis, about the place, the culture and the people.
Profile Image for Kelly.
1,309 reviews503 followers
April 19, 2020
Wow. I loved this book so much! I actually enjoyed reading every chapter and every point of view, which feels like it hadn't happened to me in so long. I didn't even want it to end because then I would have to wait for the next book (with that ending, I don't think it could stay a standalone). I'm a bit surprised to be honest to have enjoyed it so much compared to some other readers who gave lower ratings. Usually, I'm the one with the lower rating but I'm glad it's not the case here ahah.

This book follows a girl trying to survive in a brutal world where silver wielders have been hunted down and killed by the royal family. The King is the most brutal and cruel man in the kingdom. A rebellion is already there with rebels trying their best to conjure a plan to overthrow the King. Darek, the leader, finds out about Ren and her power. And while she doesn't care about the rebellion, she desperately needs the money to pay off a gang to which she owes money.

Of Silver and Shadow has lots of action and I was never bored. The romances were so entertaining to read and also nerve-wracking since one of those relationships was actually forbidden and if they were found out, they would have been executed by the King.

Overall, it was a great read.
Profile Image for Kalyn Josephson.
Author 8 books644 followers
February 5, 2020
I love absolutely everything about this dark, gritty fantasy!

First off, the magic. Cool magic systems are always the first thing to snag me and the silver wielding in OSAS is SO. COOL. It reminds me of ATLA style element manipulation and I am here for it.

The world is so vivid and detailed. Jenn's writing is incredibly cinematic and I felt like I lived in Denfell. A lot of that was also due to the lifelike characters. Ren is fierce, Darek is dreamy, Kellen is so adorable I just want to hug him, and omg THE BANTER. I could read dialogue scenes between these characters for pages.

I honestly can't recommend this book enough and I'm so excited for everyone to check it out!
Profile Image for Darcey.
906 reviews191 followers
February 15, 2021
ARC copy provided in exchange for an honest review. This in no way changes my rating or review.

4 kickass stars! Buddy read with the wonderful Azraa!

This book was a wonderful start to what is sure to be a thrilling series. The writing was easy to read and the storyline was simple enough to follow, yet also complex enough to be interesting. The characters were realistic and reasonable unique, and the romance was fun and sweet.

The novel swapped between four main characters: Ren – the secret silver wielder, Darek – the leader of the rebellion, Kellen – the younger prince, and Adley – one of the king’s trusted soldiers. I really liked the character of Ren, as I found her take-no-prisoners attitude refreshing and invigorating, and I also found her snark quite amusing.

“I don’t trust you, but I like you.”
“Most people neither trust nor like me, so I suspect we’re well on our way to becoming dear friends.”


It’s true that Ren is fairly unlikeable, but she’s kind in her own way, and she didn’t take anyone’s crap, which I loved.
I also really liked Kellen and a few of the side characters, they added fun and humour to the intense story, and I found Kellen to be incredibly entertaining.

“Oh yes, I’m the undisputed victor of the yearly dance competition. All the other pit lords are positively green with envy.”

It’s definitely true that if the pit lords DID have a yearly dance competition, Kellen would be the winner.
One character I didn’t like was Adley, as I honestly don’t believe she deserves a redemption storyline, I just hate her too much! Her torture scenes were quite intense, so be prepared.

As well as the characters, I also found the world-building with silver-wielding and a strong monarchy quite fascinating. The storyline may not have been incredibly original, but it was very captivating and unique enough for the ending to shock me.

All in all, I’m glad I read this! I found the characters refreshing and the storyline entertaining, and I thank the publisher, author and TBR & Beyond Tours for the free ARC :)).
Profile Image for Amanda.
193 reviews45 followers
January 8, 2020
I would like to thank Jennifer Gruenke & Flux for my copy of the ARC. Due to this kind gesture, I have decided to leave a review.

WOW WOW WOW WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW! What in the hell bells was that?!

In a kingdom where magic has been purged, only the Royals have the pleasure of using silver. But a normal girl, generations down the line can wield her own silver? Hunted down, thought to be murdered by the king's children... what's a girl to do?! Lay low? Become nothing? Or swindle card games and hit fighting pits. But what if that's all about the change for a bit of gold? Would you risk your life for so much gold you could make a Kardashian jealous? Maybe you would come along for the ride.



I tried to get into this book a couple of times but I couldn't seem to sit still and actually fully invest properly. I recently broke my foot (new years eve yeeey) so I have no choice but to stay in my room. I switched everything off and picked up my kindle and started to read. Before I knew it I was hooked! I could not put the book down. I was giggling, I was in shock, I was routing! This is one of these books the sneak up on you and leaves an imprint where you want more.

The plot was good, it really flowed. Sometimes I get bored with these types of books because they try to pile too much information or make it complicated but Gruenke really made it work, and all in one book. I will say though I have A LOT OF UNANSWERED QUESTIONS!! Will this be a stand-alone?! I bloody hope not because I need more answers. What happens with a certain young prince? What happens with the older one? I CAN'T HAVE THIS I NEED MORE!



I absolutely adored Ren! She was hilarious, strong, determined. She was also damaged, guarded, insufferable but by gods, you route for her every step of the way. You see her grow, flourish, become the person she is meant to be and it's fricking awesome!

The characters were amazing, from Ren to Darek, to Adley and Lesa, Holland, Heath, King Mattheus Lyandor! Ohh how I love a baddie, Ethen Delano... Markus our love who reminded me of a puppy. Then, of course, our lovely Kellen... how could I ever forget him! This can't be all that I am left with?! I need another Kellen hit, where you at?!



I really think this will be a huge hit for people who are into books written by SJ Mass, Cassandra Clare, Kelley Armstrong. It's a real page-turner and I actually loved how it didn't include any fae or weird creatures because that is getting done aaaaalooootttt right now so it was nice to see something fresh.

Its certainly gets four stars from me! It was a pleasure to read and review! Thank you :-).

https://mandyizzym.tumblr.com

"And you said there wasn't much to know about you." She was such a little liar.

Profile Image for Melissa.
545 reviews800 followers
June 8, 2020
I love anti-heroines and Ren is an AMAZING one. In her world, magic is forbidden. In fact, everyone who had magic had been murdered by the king, assuring him that only his family has magic... Except that Ren has magic, and when the king found out, he set her house on fire. Her parents were killed, and she was supposed to die, but no one knew she survived. She made her own rules to survive on the streets, playing cards, stealing and fighting in the pits. But only one friend knew she had silver... Until it was discovered.

I really loved this book. The descriptions are so well-detailed that I could imagine myself walking in the street and seeing and feeling everything while being there. It's also incredibly fast-paced and really completely action-packed. Some twists and turns gave me whiplashes, my mouth flew open a couple of times, and really, this relation between Ren and Darek!! Sparkly sparkles fly.

TW for torture, it's really graphic.

Many thanks to Flux for the complimentary e-copy of this book through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Profile Image for Alexia | Right Writing Words .
95 reviews25 followers
December 22, 2019
description

Title: Of Silver and Shadow

Author: Jennifer Gruenke

Release Date:26 May 2020

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

*I received this arc from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was so surprised when Netgalley approved this arc for me, and even more surprised when I found out that the author is one of my favorite reviewer’s friends!

Of Silver and Shadow follows the journey of Ren Kollins as she joins a rebellion against the tyrant king of Erdis. It’s by no means an easy road, since the king and his son don’t hesitate to show their cruelty towards rebels.

Oh, and one more thing: Ren is one of the last silver wielders in the country.

We follow the perspectives of four characters: Ren, the silver wielder with loads of sass; Darek, the leader of the rebellion who’s strangely tall; Adley, a member of the lethal King’s Children that actually has a heart; and Kellen, the youngest prince who couldn’t be more different from his family and likes to sneak out at night.

Four utterly different characters, yet their story lines all intertwine.

The writing was good and I enjoyed it, the plot line was patiently executed and not rushed, and the characters were all interesting to read.


Good underlying themes/ messages:

-Be your own person; don’t be who your family tries to force you to be.
-Love is not a weakness.
-Mercy is always a good characteristic to have.

A whole star for this catagory!


Interesting Story:

The story revolves around Ren and her being a hesitant member of the rebellion against the king, Kellen trying to live through each day with his father as the king and his brother, Adley as she tries to capture the rebel leader in exchange for her possible freedom one day, and Darek as he tries to fulfill his late mother’s goal by overthrowing the king.

We’ve all done things we’re not proud of. We’ve all made mistakes. Your demons might be louder than mine, but we each have one or two hanging around.


The first part of the book, I felt, was the build-up to an explosive ending. I was casually reading and the next moment, things started happening and the pace picked up.

A lot happens, and this is by no means a short book, but it still feels it went by so fast.

It could also be because I was reading too fast.

The rebellion plot line felt very predictable, if I’m being honest, and I fell like it’s been done so many times by now. With Ren being the reluctant symbol of the rebellion, it gave me some Mockingjay vibes.

Kellen and Adley’s stories were much more interesting for me: the kind prince and the reluctant assassin. Both of them are sweetie pies who need to be protected at all costs.

Half a star for this catagory.


Realistic characters and growth:

Ren’s sarcasm and banter with Darek was funny most of the time, but some times it came off as childish and petty. I also didn’t feel as much chemistry between them as I had hoped for but once again:

It could be because I was reading too fast.

Freya was also a sweetie pie, though.

I liked Adley from the very start and I found her relationship with Lesa endearing. I had crossed my fingers from the very beginning for them to survive this book, so that obviously means I ship them. (You’re going to have to find out for yourself if they survive…)

I liked Kellen from the beginning as well and as the story progressed, seeing how his family treated him made me sympathize with him. Even if he sneaks out at midnight and gallivants around the city, he still was the most innocent and pure-hearted person in his family. Can I just say how much I love Holland, as well?

Darek irritated me at first because of the way he treated Ren. From the get-go, he was rude and disrespectful to her even though he had never met her before. He stays like this for a long time, which doesn’t help my opinion of him. He goes as far as prodding at Ren’s past, which is obviously a big no-no since it’s private. As time went on, he began to soften and I slightly started liking him. (It didn’t hurt that he gave Ren the book she intended to steal…)

I wish his brother got some more time, though.

So yeah, in the end I liked (mostly) everyone.

Half a star for this category.


Fantastic World Building:

I got a clear picture of Erdis, how there was a clear line betweent the rich and poor areas of the city. It was easy to picture the extravagant houses and the dilapidated buildings.

I got a sense of how politics are at that moment (not very good) and what the other countries’ opinion of the tyrannical king was.

Why does anyone look at art? Perhaps it makes her feel a little less alone.


I wish we got to see some more of the foreign countries, but I understand that the main conflict is inside the borders so I can ignore that.

Hopefully, we get the explore more in the (possible) next book!

A whole star for this category!


Writing Style Is Beautiful/ Easy To Read:

For a debut author, the writing was great! I wasn’t able to pull as many quotes as I wanted to but it was easy to read. Evident by the amount of times I mentioned in this review that I read too fast.

He thought because she was quiet, because she liked books and the way the flowers blossomed on the hills in spring, because she was a girl, he could dismiss her as frivolous and unimportant. Weak. He was wrong.


The conversations weren’t stuffed with filler and the banter was quite amusing most of the times. The characters’ perspectives weren’t all the same and I was able to tell them apart.

A whole star for this category!


That’s it!

Have you read Of Silver and Shadow or do you want to? Let me know down below!

Till we meet again!

Xx Alexia
January 7, 2020
4.5 Star Rating

A transformative journey of survival and politics, a band of unlikely but lovable heroes, a world brimming with the echoes of magic lost and whispers of revolution rising. Fantasy lovers, rejoice! Jennifer Gruenke delivers a captivating tale where the blood spills red, the morality runs grey, and the magic always has a silver lining.

Of Silver and Shadow is a knockout of a read and a standout for the 2020 lineup. It does the unthinkable from the get go - it takes a fairly recognizable YA trope, a girl with magic powers gets involved with a rebel cause to overtake a throne to a country that ostracizes and persecutes magic users and along the way is entangled with the plot of a prince who just wants to do his own thing (a la, Onyx and Ivory, Ruined, etc) but here's the kicker - the execution is done REALLY WELL. This story is GROUNDED. It has roots in a world that is wholly immersive and unique enough to stand apart from the rest. Let's face it, if a story is fun to read and enjoyable, who cares if it's a tad tropey?

Ren is a petty thief and a pit fighter, living in poverty with an attitude that's just as abrasive as her right hook. She is also a secret silver-wielder, capable of manipulating silver at will with the flick of her wrist. The only problem is that she isn't supposed to be alive - the king in years past had all silver wielders killed except themselves to keep the power of magic monopolized by royalty. His radical regime is enforced by the Kings Children, elite warriors enslaved to root out magic users and heretics alike. When Ren is approached by two brothers looking to overthrow the tyrant king, Ren must figure out what she values most and what she's willing to sacrifice to attain it. Along the way, there are alliances tested, unexpected friendships, secrets unearthed from long ago, and a sloooooowwwwww burn hate-to-love romance that will make you wonder if this is really for young adults.....

There is a darkness coiled up in the tone of this book that I simply adored. The author did not pull any punches when it came to depicting the brutality of this world and the torturous depravity of its king. I appreciated the grit and the honesty of the setting and the tense atmosphere it created. There are no apologies for the characters maiming or murdering. There is no path to redemption or introspection. Ren does what she has to in order to survive and that's it. And when we switch gears to the other of the 4 main point of views (which sounds intimidating but transitioned seamlessly), we find that the solidarity of resolve to survive in an unfairly oppressive world is what drives these characters forward. Towards what end, whether it be good or evil or somewhere in-between, who's to say what the right answer is. All I know is I was intrigued the whole way through. And the last 10% of the book probably had some of the most well-articulated, enjoyable, believable action sequences I've ever read.

Overall, great read. Can't wait for the next installment!

Thanks to Netgalley for a digital copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Finitha Jose.
292 reviews48 followers
April 11, 2020
When almost everything in the fantasy genre tends to be a part of the series, I am really glad to find this rare gem where the story actually ends. Some of us have fragile hearts you know and cannot handle prolonged state of tension which may even last years. So thank you Jennifer Gruenke for keeping us in mind.

What are the things I loved then? First there is the plot. Kingdom of Erdis is governed by a cruel king (practically a devil incarnate) and the country is at the brink of war. A revolution brews in the midst; many had attempted to overthrow the king before but this time it could be different. They have got hold of a silver wielder, a magic outlawed and is restricted to the royal family.

I loved the way Gruenke gradually built up a story of epic proportions. First half of the book is dedicated to character development simultaneously introducing us to a slice of what we have signed up for. The tension builds up gradually culminating in a short but well planned battle scene. Yup, I loved it all.

Narrated through the perspective of four characters -- Ren, Darek, Adley and Prince Kellen -- we do get to see the action from all sides just like multiple cameras. My preference usually goes for dual POVs or first person narrative, but I enjoyed this too. Just like the narrators there are multiple couples (three in fact, and one of them is f/f), clearly the icing on the cake.

What I didn't quite buy is the revolution. Apart from the last part, it is clearly not well organised, and I doubt it would have survived if it is not for the authorial intervention. Considering the threat they are under, being a bit more secretive should have been necessary.

So will I recommend this book? Without a doubt. Definitely, something to watch out for in May.
Profile Image for Christi M.
345 reviews55 followers
February 19, 2020
Rebellion, outlawed magic, potential romance, witty banter all make up this new fantasy book by Jennifer Gruenke.

Thoughts:
Rebellion is at the forefront of this young adult/new adult book. The kingdom is being run by those who don’t deserve to be in power and it is long past time to remove them.

Ren is a pit fighting, sarcastic, street-wise girl who gets noticed by the rebellion leaders. Why? Because she can do magic in a kingdom where magic is outlawed by death. They need her, but she’s not really all that into the rebellion until there is promise of money. Then, of course, she’s definitely in.

The rebellion has been long coming and they have planned out exactly how to use her talents. Not in the “she does everything while we stand back” kind of way except when they obviously have to since she is the only one who can do magic, but more of “let’s use her to rally others to our cause” way.

What I Liked:

- Character interactions and banter were fun, especially whenever Prince Kellen was around, but Darek and Ren have some fun interactive encounters too. Speaking of Prince Kellen, he was quite the scene stealer. It’s as if the book came alive when he wandered into a scene.
- World is pretty easy to grasp and follow. The kingdom and how it operates along with the magic system can be quickly understood at a high level.
- Couple of unexpected moments in the plot that surprise you and keep the story progressing.

What Was Ok or Didn’t Like:
- Plot isn’t terribly unique to the fantasy genre, which was my main struggle with it. Rebels plotting against the king, enemies to romance. We’ve seen it before. Overall, it has potential for being more complex, although I did appreciate the portions of how King Mattheus manipulated other kingdoms, especially with the proposed treaties.
- Wish there was just a little bit more explanation on how the story ends. It gives the impression that this is a stand-alone story, so I wish there were an Epilogue to provide more information on what happened next and how the ending plays out.

Overall, it was an enjoyable novel and quick read, but isn’t necessarily original. I know there are many who really love enemies-to-lover books along with rebellion and so if this is you, then definitely consider trying this one out. However, if you are looking for something with a complex, dark plot that is unique, then this may not be book for you. Due to some mature content, it feels more like it is on the edge of young adult and new adult genre.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Thanks to Netgalley and North Star Editions for the advanced reader copy and the opportunity to provide an honest review.
Profile Image for Sheena ☆ Book Sheenanigans .
1,409 reviews332 followers
September 8, 2020

'Of Silver and Shadow' is about Ren, who is a self-taught silver wielder that nearly escaped death as a child before she went into hiding in the Kingdom of Eris, where magic is outlawed and being outed could be the death of her. While attempting to survive by succumbing to thievery, card games, and dangerous pit fighting to pay an overdue debt, along the way she encounters a Rebel, King's Children, and Prince that pulls her towards a rebellion she wants no part of in which case forever alternating the course of her life forever.

And... Holy. Shit..

Now that's what I call a near-perfect debut YA novel and if you haven’t checked out my rating, this is a must-read for 2021! It had all the elements I was looking for: badass heroine, characters that actually had depth and growth, fantasy, magic, fighting, and mild dosage of romance that wasn’t so instant.

It was an addictive page turner that I nearly finished in one sitting. In addition, 'Of Silver and Shadow' showcased fantastic character development, decent world-building along with surprising tropes I wasn’t expecting, and let's not forget the author's phenomenal writing style that made it easier to immerse myself on Ren's journey in joining the Rebellion. Needless to say just about everything about this novel was superb and I would highly recommend everyone to add this to your TBR. You'll have no regrets, just saying.

Profile Image for Sam.
247 reviews
November 7, 2019
THIS. BOOK.

It's like if Lila Bard teamed up (and had a steamy romance) with Enjolras. Pit fighter Ren is all knives; Darek is a broody rebel who talks of revolution. Put them together, and bam! You have a sizzling, banter-filled fantasy that will keep you turning pages. Pick this one up. Display it proudly on your shelf. It's FABULOUS.
Profile Image for Bright Star.
388 reviews125 followers
August 29, 2020
I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for a honest review

4.25 stars


Of Silver and Shadow was such a hilarious and enjoyable reading! I laughed multiple times, which is rare in fantasy books nowadays. I loved all the characters, especially Ren who reminded me of Lila ❤️ She was such a sassy character that it wasn't impossible to not like her! Plus, her banters with Darek and their enemies to lovers relationship were SO FREAKING GOOD! I can't help myself, I LOVE this trope! I also enjoyed the story itself and the magic involved, even if it could have been explored a little bit more. The last chapters were an escalation of action and I couldn't put it down. And after that ending, I'm sure there will be more books because there are so many things left to explore (the author herself said there's room for sequels in the future). And you know what? I'm eager to continue this adventure and I really need more Ren/Darek moments!
Profile Image for Red Ink Book Reviews.
217 reviews12 followers
December 17, 2019
I was given an advanced copy of this book to provide a review by Flux – North Star Editions.
A captivating story that had me from the very beginning and until the very end. I was left feeling bereft and hopelessly wondering what was left in store for all the colourful and vivid characters in this mesmerising tale.
Ren Kolins is strong and feisty young woman whose bark is definitely not worse than her bite. She is rude and abrupt but life has forced her to be this way. Ever since her parent’s death where they were burnt alive in their own home. Ren had barely escaped with her life and has the scars to show for it both inside and out.
But that’s not all there is to Ren, she has her own secrets. Secrets she keeps hidden like layers wrapped tightly around herself for warmth in the winter. With walls forever up, rarely letting anyone to see through the cracks of her armour.
Ren developed and perfected her skills as a thief and an accomplished fighter. Of course, the fact that she was a silver wielder certainly helped, though that is one secret she keeps closer than all the rest.
But to be a silver wielder in Erdis is a dangerous thing indeed. If the King were to discover her secret, she would join her parents. As only those with royal blood were meant to be silver wielders, and Ren was not of royal blood.
So, when Darek and his brother Markus tracked her down and revealed they knew her secret she was none too pleased.
Asking her to join their rebellion, she thought she would be better off signing her own death warrant. However, there was something about this Darek that she just couldn’t quite explain or put her finger on. He was dark and moody, almost as much as Ren was herself. And he had an uncanny knack to get under her skin like no one else could. Against her better judgment she joiner their rebellion, for a price.
The fight for the kingdom quickly turned into a fight for their lives. As the King’s loyal soldiers, the King’s Children circled Ren closer and closer, slowly tightening the noose. Can ren allow herself to depend on someone else or will she let it all burn around her, as long as she is safe…

Jennifer Gruenke is a talented author pulling the reader in and holding them in her power as she weaves her tales.
If you like the stories and works of Sarah J Maas you will definitely enjoy this thrilling story.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and can’t wait to read more of Ren and her adventures.
Profile Image for Lia Carstairs.
396 reviews2,041 followers
July 13, 2020
Update:
So I just noticed that the release date for this book was pushed back to next year - Feb. 16


Thank you so much Netgalley and North Star Editions/Flux for sharing this book in exchange for an honest review.
Publication Date: Feb. 16, 2021

Okay, so we can we all just give a moment to LOOK AT THAT COVER!!!😍

I admit that when I was looking for books, this cover stood out so much, that I just had to read the synopsis. Yes, I know, don't judge a book by its cover, but c'mon. You can't look at that and not fall in love with that GORGEOUS cover.💖
description
Of Silver and Shadow (it even had a great title) was my first request to Netgalley to be accepted, so you can imagine how happy I was to read this.😁
For a story with multiple perspectives, the author did a really good job!

You have 18 year old pit fighter and silver wielder, Ren, who wants nothing to do with rebel leader, Darek, and his plans to overthrow the King.
And then Adley, one of the King's Children (fierce warriors) and Kellen, who is like my favourite character.😍
Ren only decides to work with Darek and this rebel group because they promised a huge amount of money.🤑
But is money really worth all the danger....................🤔

Well, I won't go in any details , but I'll say that Ren was super cool and an awesome fighter, both physically and mentally.
I didn't like Darek or Adley in the beginning of the book, nor do I like them now. Though I am starting to like Adley, but not Darek. Just something about him annoys me.....

KELLEN WAS THE BEST!!!
He was so sweet and kind, nothing like his father and brother. Kellen was hilarious and I can't really say anything without spoiling, but trust me. You're going to love him.😍

I'm just so annoyed of that ending. That cliffhanger....WHY??!!😭
Now I have to wait until who knows when to get the next book. Especially since it hasn't even come yet.

But believe me, if you love strong and funny protagonists, silver wielding magic, and THE COVER💖 (DON'T forget the cover), then you've got to pre-order this right now or buy this on Feb. 16.
I know the waiting will be torturous, but hey, at least you haven't read it now and now have to wait until next year most likely for the next book.😭😂
Profile Image for julia ☆ [owls reads].
1,492 reviews292 followers
April 12, 2020
2 stars.

*

Of Silver and Shadow really wasn’t the book for me. From the very beginning, I felt like I was dropped in the middle of an ongoing story without any sort of explanation on who the characters were or what was going on. Because of this, I couldn't connect to the characters and the plot felt a bit wishy washy to me. Everything happened too fast and without pause.

The two positive things were the action scenes and the queer romance. There were quite a few cool action sequences throughout the story and Gruenke wrote them very well. The queer romance was also a positive and I really like how it was developed.

For things I had issues with… The world-building wasn’t all that clear? I’m not sure if this was because the extremely fast pace made it a bit difficult to develop this universe and the magic system. I was confused about a few points, one of them being the silver wielding, and could have used a bit more fleshing out on the major concepts of the novel.

The ending twist and how that was executed, especially the last chapter, was way too convenient and a bit over the top. It was believable to me with the story Gruenke was trying to tell. I was also confused why the ending read like there was possibly going to be a sequel to this when the book was marked as a standalone. The story didn’t feel like it was finished.

So, I’m sure some people will like this, but I had issues with it from the beginning that made it very difficult for me to connect to the story or its characters. The direction the plot took also wasn’t really for me and the ending just felt odd. I’d recommend this to people who are looking for YA Fantasy novels with queer rep, though, as that was the highlight of the novel for me.

*

Series: Standalone?
POV: Told from multiple POVs.
Content Warnings:
Instalove:
Cliffhanger: Eh.
HEA:

*

ARC provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Jessica.
265 reviews53 followers
November 7, 2019
I had the absolute privilege of reading an early version of this and it blew my mind. Ren is the snarky, spirited MC we deserve and I loved her from the first page, and the other POVs are just as vivid and intriguing. The setting is so real and gritty and ties into a super cool magic system—like Scarlet Witch, but make it fantasy. This book is full of rebellion and romance and magic and it’ll sweep you away. OF SILVER AND SHADOW is a refreshing new YA fantasy that you won’t be able to put down.
Profile Image for JenacideByBibliophile.
208 reviews128 followers
May 29, 2020
Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Flux – North Star Editions, via Netgalley for an honest review. 

Of Silver and Shadow had a lot going right for it.

A story of rebellion with unique and diverse characters, a plot with twists and surprises lurking in shadowed alleyways, a rugged world built on oppression and fear, and a female lead with a liking towards thievery and pit fights.

But with all the good that this story was – enthralling, exciting, fresh – there were too many holes, forced moments and fumbling for it to really be a winner in my eyes.

“Manners are nothing more than a polite form of dishonesty.”

description

This is your basic YA Fantasy story of a group of rebels attempting to overthrow a cruel and power-obsessed King. For a century, the use of magic in the form of silver wielding has been outlawed and forbidden by anyone but the royal family. In fear of losing their royal status, King Tallis ensured that only the Lyandor family would have the right to possess magic.  So he ordered the capture of those who possessed the gift of silver magic, and killed them all.

description

“They writhed, eyes and noses glowing, heads thrown back and silver spilling out of wide mouths as they tried to scream, but couldn’t.”

This started off strong with the introduction of our ruthless and badass female heroine, Ren. I knew from the description that I was going to take an immediate liking to her, and I did, but there was just something…missing. She has SERIOUS Celaena Sardothian vibes, with a smart mouth and ferocious skills that always keep her one step ahead of her opponents. She is arrogant, stubborn, brash and sarcastic. Truly a gem. But the connection that I should have made with her from the beginning never seemed to come.

“She held her chin as if bearing the weight of a crown.”

What quickly becomes a theme for the characters in this book is their two-dimensional nature. Sure, they have physical traits that set them apart and personalities that make them differ from one another. But “who they are” and “what they’re about” is mostly told to the reader, with very little evidence or examples being shown. I felt that there were too many descriptions of their personalities, traits and flaws rather than there being a chance for me to draw my own conclusions about each person.

I wanted to figure out on my own why Ren kept people at a distance and why she was always so mean. I wanted to learn in due time just how cruel the king and his son Heath were, and the lengths they would go to in order to stay in power. I wanted that slow-burn romance with tentative flicks of the eyes, the feather-light brushing of hands during strategy talks or playful banter. But there wasn’t much of that at all. And with that painfully obvious romance between Ren and Darek, it all felt forced and rushed with zero chemistry between them.

description

The King and Heath were described as being truly horrible beings who cared only for power and ruling. But they don’t come across that way at all. Their dialogue doesn’t express pure menace or cruelty. Heath is even supposed to be more vicious than his father, but the way he spoke and his mannerisms made him come off as thoughtful and vulnerable. Even how the King expressed his disgust for his sons came off like an offhanded jab. Like when I’m shoving cookies into my face on a Tuesday afternoon and my friend is looking at me in horror and says ‘Bruh, you disgust me’ . Bit aggressive, but not pure malice.

About the only two characters that were convincing were two soldiers of the King’s Children.

“No one really talked about what happened when a King’s Child lost their finesse with a weapon and their body began to final, but everyone knew. The king worked his children until they outlived their usefulness, and when their aim was no longer true and their sword shook in their hands, he sent them to an early grave.”

Adley and Lesa are two badass broads, but Lesa is who really steals the show…and as the supporting actress to Adley! She has a softness to her that is girly and delicate, with a scary fierceness and a twisted love for torture and bloodshed. Their relationship is EVERYTHING I was needing from Ren and Darek. Caring, strong, fierce, sweet and well-rounded. But unfortunately, this story doesn’t wholly center on them. and unfortunately, I feel like they barely got an ending!

description

I think what my main issue is that very little aspects of this story felt organic. Big plot points are revealed by characters just sort of walking into the answers, and even the revealing of these secrets and twists were blasé. But please hear me when I say, this isn’t a bad book by any means. I was hooked into it and loved the plot and story as a whole. I just felt like it could have been great, when it was just pretty good. Maybe it’s because I compare everything to an SJM books now, who knows? But part of me wishes this story was split into two books, and part of me disagrees because there wasn’t THAT much happening. I just wanted more explanation on the magic, more of what went into planning the rebellion and MORE from Ren.

I’m on the fence about this one, but I’m interested to read something else by this author to see if it was just this book or my mood getting in the way of me loving it.
Profile Image for Dee Arr.
734 reviews87 followers
February 14, 2021
This story has all the expected characters and plot lines one would expect in a recipe for a magical fantasy. Take one despot king who thinks nothing of subjugating his subjects and killing them at will. Add in the heir-apparent, as ruthless as his father. Toss in a brother who has a far softer side than his brother or father. Mix in other characters such as Adley and Lesa, members of the King’s Children (an elite army) and partners in an illicit love; Darek and Markus, brothers and a major part of the revolutionaries. Last, but not least, there is Ren Kolins, a magic wielder who never should have been born but has found a way to survive and keep everyone at bay. One can guess the plot from the above characters and the parts they are sure to play.

Author Jennifer Gruenke stretches this tale out over 480 pages, taking us down the expected paths. While others have taken this same plot and made something out of it, there is nothing that jumps out and makes the story special…which is a shame, as the author has a talent for imagery. One never knew when an image would jump off at the pages. “A long, scarred table sat in the middle of the crowded room, rickety and mismatched chairs jutting out around it” describes the scene as well as hints at the owners of the furniture, while “…it did little to ease the worry eating at his gut like a carnivorous moth” inspires a number of visions. Descriptions like these helped to keep me reading and are the author’s 5-star part of the story.

At the same time, the pages are littered with unnecessary vulgarities, so many in the first few chapters that I struggled to continue reading. Thankfully, the number abated yet returned in force at the very end, raising the stakes to include what could be considered as oaths with a pair of f-bombs thrown in. Ms. Gruenke is certainly talented enough with her descriptive choices and could have found a better way to present the moods of the characters. When coupled with the desired audience (9th through 12th grade) I debated why we would teach 13- and 14-year-olds that this is the only way to illustrate a point.

Bottom line – “Of Silver and Shadow” is not a bad tale, just one that holds nothing new. It could have been stronger with dropping the vulgarities and increasing visual descriptions of the characters’ moods while dropping the info dumps that always seemed to appear whenever an action scene began to pick up speed. Other readers may like the story, and though I could consider checking out Ms. Gruenke’s next novel, this one receives only three stars from me.

My thanks to NetGalley and publishers North Star Editions and Flux for a complimentary electronic copy of this book.
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