For centuries, the Oshan Empire has ruled the New World with terror and blood. The Watchers have been eradicated, and their sorcery is but a whispered myth. But the heart of magic beats on, and as it surges back to life, three young people will determine the fate of the world…
Tori Burodai, a strong-willed slave girl. Her magic could ignite a revolution, but only if she resists the ruler who wants to use her powers to restore the empire to its former glory.
Darien Redvar, the idealistic soldier she loves. His rage leads him down a dark path to power that could turn him against the one person he cares for.
Kale Andovier, a lordling rebel with a torturous past. His quest for a weapon of dark sorcery will thrust him into a twisted game of power that could change the world forever.
Will the return of magic transform the New World, or bring it to ruin?
I love stories when the weak are raised up to hero status. Tori is the world's salvation but she is humble and continually gets beat down again and again, only to keep surviving and trying to fight the evil from the chancellor.
The story is told in 3 POVs which end up all coming together to center around The Gallows Girl and the chancellor.
Can't wait to see what the next book has in store for these 2.
Thank you so much for sending me your book for an honest review! I LOVED IT! This YA high fantasy book reminds me of The Lord of The Rings, but better. I may be a bit biased though because I think Tolkien was a bad info-dumper. And no, don't @ me about that comment. You can't change my mind.
You can check out my book review on THE SHADOW WATCH below:
I don't read much fantasy outside LOTR and Harry Potter, but maybe I should start. This book is fantastic, I fell in love with many of the characters, the plot kept me interested the whole time, and the setting was diverse with fabulous landscape descriptions. I can't wait for book 2!
Okay, I admit that I was caught by the cover, but it was the description that made me take a chance on this series, even though it doesn't seem that well known (only 395 ratings so far), and my three library systems don't seem to have any titles by the author. But that is NOT a reason to give this series a pass, and I'm so glad I didn't. S.A. Klopfenstein has created a very interesting world where magic has been outlawed and all but stamped out. From the opening pages, you find that seven-year-old Astoria has apparently attracted the attention of magic seekers when magic manifested in her as she acted to save a boy. Her mother tricks the creatures and somehow removes memory and magic from her daughter's mind even as she sells her into slavery to save her life. The story then fast-forwards to Astoria (now called Tori) as a teenager and you learn about the rough life she and her best friend Darien have endured, along with the rest of the slaves as they are used for whatever purpose the rich and powerful need them for, but especially as soldiers in their neverending wars.
There was much to love about this first book. I loved the characters, the monsters, the worldbuilding, and the intrigue. There were so many twists and turns in this novel and the villain is perfectly cast. You ALMOST believe that he really wants to make the world safer for magic users, but you also know he really just wants power and he wants magic to be something he can wield and control. There was some explanation of the magic system, but I'm hoping to learn more in future books. But the whole idea of bloodletting was disturbing enough to keep me hooked, lol. My only criticism is that I'm tired of the trope where the main protagonist refuses to fight because they think that everyone who was hurt was because of them. That somehow everything bad happening to other people is because of who they are and that if they had just made different choices, the other people would have been fine. Thankfully, it seems that she is starting to believe otherwise by the end of this book, but time will tell. Besides this trope, I really liked Tori, and I liked many of the other characters. I can't wait to continue with this series and I'm glad I bought the 4-book series all at once.
I was granted complimentary access to The Shadow Watch on Audible as part of my participation in a blog tour for this title with Storytellers on Tour. Thank you to all involved in affording me this opportunity! My thoughts are my own and my review is honest.
The Shadow Watch, book one in the series by the same title, is truly an epic fantasy! It's long (the audiobook is 12.5!) but you won't regret a single minute of it. In 400 pages or 12.5 hours, there isn't a single dull moment or accidentally confusing passage. Klopfenstein's world-building is immaculate and fascinating, and Tori is the fierce heroine we all needed.
I've seen some reviews that critique the world for being too basic or Tori for being too "any girl," and I think those reviewers have missed the magic. Perhaps this isn't their genre (or sub-genre) or perhaps they didn't pay it the attention it deserves, but there's nothing about this book's world that makes me think I could transplant another writer's characters into it and tell their story without any changes, nor do I feel like I've read Tori before, thus I do believe these are much more unique and interesting than some have given them credit for. The magic system, in particular, strikes me as particularly unique, and I love how politicized the right to use such magic is.
One critique point I've seen others bring up that I do agree with, however, is the distraction posed by borrowing real-world words with very specific meanings. Calling a person with certain abilities a morph? Sure, works for me. Using the surname Medici in the book and not even trying to play off the real-world famous historical family? Distracting.
If you like long books and the Epic Fantasy subgenre, check this one out!
This has everything you're looking for in a fantasy novel; magic, monsters and believable protagonists. The plot naturally flows, guiding you through the new world without feeling like you're being lectured about it's history. It binds characters together, different stories and points of view intersecting to show that not all is black and white, not all are heroes and villains. Characters naturally evolve and grow; Tori becomes stronger through hard work and suffering rather than innate ability, Kale discovers betrayal and deception, whilst Darien finds himself gradually becoming what he once despised. Supporting characters lend substance to the story, and even those who seem the most shallow hold the power to doom or save the Watchers. Reading like many episodes of an ongoing series, this gives human insights into an inhumane world, as people fight to survive the rule of a tyrant from all sides of the divide, hopefully without losing too much blood in the process. Perfect for fans of Luke Scull's 'The Grim Company' (although this is much cleaner) and Stephen Aryan's 'Battle Mage', 'Shadow Watch' is a must read for all fantasy fans.
*I have received an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review*
Perfect for epic-fantasy lovers seeking their next fantastic reading binge, S.A. Klopfenstein's The Shadow Watch is a gritty, compelling, and heartstopping adventure you won't want to miss!
I rarely take a chance on new series these days, not the way I dove headfirst in anything with the fantasy label as a teen. After another decade of reading less for myself and more for my blog, I've forced myself to branch out from my favorite genre. And I've become very good at only choosing books I am fairly certain I'll come to love, or at least admire for exceptional prose and a well-crafted plot. So I was more than pleasantly surprised to dive into the world of The Shadow Watch.
Enter a world where magic isn't just outlawed, but anyone with a spark of magical ability is hunted down and slaughtered by shape-shifted monsters. The Old World was rife with magical creatures and gods, but there's no room for power beyond the Chancellors in the New World. Astoria was born with this dangerous ability, but she doesn't remember it. She lives her life as a slave determined to survive and keep her head down, to protect herself and the ones she loves. Not until her best friend Darien is drafted to fight for the Night Legion and chooses death instead of being indoctrinated to murder his own people. Not until Tori loses control of her forgotten abilities and becomes a legend and martyr in the process.
The best fantasy tropes are all there, but I couldn't quite predict what would happen next. The interactions between characters are written in such a natural way, I felt like I was there. Several characters were especially memorable, and Darien's chapters were heartbreaking and chilling. Yet I continued to be drawn back into the story by Tori as she transforms from slavegirl to prisoner/lab rat and eventually, powerful bad-ass. With a colorful cast of characters, and twisted antagonists, and many lovely shades of gray in between, The Shadow Watch is the fantasy fix I didn't know I needed.
Content warnings: violence and injury; death; parental death; medical abuse including bloodletting; blood-drinking.
Enjoyable, if slightly by-the-numbers, YA fantasy! I found some of the darkness slightly gratuitous, but that has more to do with my taste than the book; if you enjoy a touch of grimdark in your fantasy, this will fill that role well. There's a hint of romance, a bit of a magical training montage, and a lot of chosen one/face of the rebellion stuff that is so classic in YA fantasy. My one major qualm is that the author uses a lot of words and names that already have strong associations: Medici and gulag stood out as words that it's hard to dissociate from their real world meanings (and less intensely, but no less distractingly, Fieri). I found this pulled me out of the setting quite a bit because I would see the word, and then have to actively recalculate to what it meant in this book. But on the whole this was a fun read.
*** Many thanks to author for providing e-copy, in exchange for honest review. ***
It was interesting first book in fantasy series that revolved around Tori who founds her dormant power in trying to save her friend that triggered series of event and made her to join rebel army.
The story was about power, greed, manipulation, friendship, love, betrayal, letting go of guilt and regrets, embracing gift, saving the world, hope, and responsibilities.
Characters were complex, interesting and flawed. Tori was my favourite character. I admired her will, endurance, and resilience.
World was best part. It had Grishaverse vibe. It was interesting to read about Old and New World, how Old World ended and what caused it, creatures of Old World, legends, political unrest in New World.. The world looked so vast with so much possibilities as I read more.
Overall, it was impressive, action-packed YA fantasy with interesting characters and world.
If you like world with elemental magic, politics, drama, grey and flawed characters, I recommend this book.
As far as fantasy books go, this has to be amongst my favourites. I read the first draft of this whilst it was on Wattpad when I was on a hunt for well thought out and well written books and I absolutely adored it - I may have even became obsessed with a certain character (the Chancellor was really lovable) and there were times where I would rage at or for certain characters. If a book has the capacity to make you feel emotions like that then that says something about the quality of it.
Seriously, If you're a fantasy lover - or even a lover of well written books - I'd say this is a MUST READ. Go ahead and add it to the list of books you plan on reading.
An absolutely fabulous book. This book is amazing. Fantastic characters great storyline and the best start to what will be a wonderful series. A must read for anyone who loves fantasy stories. Totally addictive you will fall in love with the characters as nf their personal stories. Written in different characters point of view, this is a go to series!
An epic start to The Shadow Watch fantasy series. I couldn't see how Tori was going to be able to escape capture in order to be the powerful protagonist that the people needed her to be but Klopfenstein kept me on my toes from the very first page to the very end. What a great read!
Hey guys! So I received an ARC copy of 'The Shadow Watch' in exchange for an honest review. Now, even though the book is out--I won't be giving away any HUGE spoilers. Just the 'bare' basics. Y'all ready? Here we go!
"For centuries, the Oshan Empire has ruled the New World with terror and blood..."
First things first: this book is a fantastic read. I originally read a part of it on Wattpad and loved it. And later? I finished the novel in about, I don't know, three days? (And I know what y'all are thinking: but...why are you just posting about it now? My short answer: school sucks and life...ugh.) Anyway, 'The Shadow Watch' to me was a perfect mix of fantasy and politics. I really enjoyed reading the history of the New World and the relationships between the people.
"The Watchers have been eradicated, and their sorcery is but a whispered myth..."
MINI-CONTEXT: From what I can gather, the New World was ushered in following the downfall of magic and the Watchers of the Old World. Why? Because people fear magic and its power. So a reason why this story didn't get a perfect 5/5 was a result of questions I have (among other reasons). Okay, so I understand that people can practice magic in secret and all, but if the Watchers were killed off completely and magic is gone...how does it continue? Is it hereditary? Besides, if the Morphs can smell them out--shouldn't they all be dead? (I understand we have a more...detailed explanation later but I was still confused about this.)
"But the heart of magic beats on, and as it surges back to life, three young people will determine the fate of the world…"
POVs: There were (I think) three or four perspectives given throughout the story and this breathed life into the story. I loved the character development of Tori and Darien over the course of the novel but was disappointed and yelling at a certain character (*cough* Kale *cough*). Anyway, Tori was a pretty good lead character. While her parts were sometimes slow, I appreciate how much she changed over the course of the novel. However, this was originally not the case because I thought she was fourteen for the longest time (she's ~seventeen, I know) and I didn't figure that bit out until I read it a second time. I couldn't wait to read Darien's chapters though, they depicted a troubled character who experienced quite the transformation by the end of the novel. I love the wedge the Chancellor drives between him and Tori when Darien is forced to join the Night Legion. (Shadow Watch, Night Legion...get it? Oh never mind. Read it!) As for Kale. Meh. He didn't seem like as 'important' as the others. In fact, I completely forgot about him until I re-read my notes about the novel. The only thing I associated him with was an unsatisfying love story. Trust me on this, I love tragic love stories. (Meliodas/Elizabeth, anyone?) But...his and Kirra's story felt like subplot D. I know what y'all are thinking: he's important to plot A! Yeah...but I feel like the love should be close to the forefront instead of feeling like a side note.
"Will the return of magic transform the New World, or bring it to ruin?"
CHARACTER INTERACTIONS: Something that detracted from the novel was the dynamic between Tori, Ren, and Vashti. I was tearing out my hair because of this. Tori and Vashti have the same last name--Burodai--and are presumably from the same clan yet Vashti treats Tori like trash. Why? Because she assumed Tori and Ren had a "thing". Basically, the short version is Vashti and Ren dated. They broke up. Vashti couldn't rebound. Conclusion: Vashti hates Tori. Back to Ren and Tori. Were they a thing? Not really. I mean, I wish they did. Like, I seriously do wish they would at every moment just to annoy Vashti. But...Ren isn't into Tori like that. Whenever Vashti's parts came up I felt like she was just a stereotypical mean girl but without substance. And her backstory? The horror! I didn't feel bad for her. And then...ugh. You have to read until the end because I'm not going to spoil that.
To conclude this: I'm thankful for reading this book by S.A. Klopfenstein. It was a great fantasy read. While there were some elements I hated, they are effectively shadowed by the amazingness of the rest of 'The Shadow Watch'.
Disclaimer: I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by S.A. Klopfenstein. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
This book was really interesting and I think that I was really super glad that I somehow found out about this audiobook! I swear there are so many fantasy books out there that don’t get as much hype but are really super good and wow. I loved that this book is in existence honestly but I kind of can’t get over it.
One of my absolute favorite thing about this novel was Tori. I hate her origin story though and what she ended up forgetting because her mom was only trying to protect her. I get it too, and when you finish that prologue and end up seeing what happened to her mom after that, I just ended up really crying and thinking about the love of a mother and just everything they would do to help make sure that their child is safe.
Ugh okay yeah Tori was my absolute favoirte thing about this novel, and my favorite character. I love how close she was with Darien too and how she wanted to protect him as well. I wish that she was able to stay with him longer but I mean maybe he needed to realize that he could actually take care of himself without having to rely on Tori and that partnership. Nothing is wrong with the partnership of course, but I feel like Darien may have been using Tori as a crutch when really, he just needed to believe in himself.
Basically yeah go listen to this novel! I think the narrator did an amazing job as well. I feel like these guys that have that neutral classic fantasy voice work well, and Krejci was no exception.
I'm a sucker for fantasy and 'The Shadow Watch' has all the elements for an epic adventure. I had no idea how deep I was reeled in till I realised that I was turning pages late into the night to reach THE END, and was left with an ache to read more.
The author has beautifully crafted this tale, with the heroine Tori Burodai who starts off as a seemingly simple slave girl who discovers her magic by accident, and tries to resist the ruler who desires to use her magic for power. For her resistance, she is elevated from the status of a slave to a symbol of hope by the common folk and the oppressed.
The plot flows naturally, slowly binding different stories and points of view together. Tori evolves through hard work and determination and not by suddenly gaining power and the knowledge of how to use it perfectly. As the characters are introduced and the plot slowly unwinds, I was struck by the fact that they were complicated, relatable and very human. Even the supporting characters added substance to the story. I could feel a myriad of emotions coursing through - sorrow, joy, fear, hope - as if the book was a movie playing out.
If you like to escape into new worlds now and then, and love magic, fantasy, and adventure look no further as this book is a MUST read. Absolutely recommended!
*I have received an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review but this has in no way affected my opinion for this book*
Though read during one of my infamous fantasy binges, The Shadow Watch stood out from the brethren of its genre. Unpredictable with a touch of grimdark, the story flawlessly unfolded in a gloriously cinematic way. Outlawed magic? Shape-shifting monsters? Uber twisted antagonists? Please and thank you.
I loved the characters, though not because they were perfect little peaches, but rather because they were HUMAN, flawed, with lots of shades of gray - which are the BEST kinds. I was invested and wanted to see where they went and feel what they were feeling.
This was one of those books that I didn't know existed, and then suddenly had it in my hands and couldn't believe I hadn't heard about it before. I will not be shy in delivering a very bold statement: TSW is a must-read!!
I don't read much fantasy these days, so I tend to choose my reads pretty carefully. Once in a while, I like to escape into another world and then it's important to me to get a feel for the place. More than that - get a feel for something unique, not just the usual ramparts, dark woods stereotype. The Shadow Watch gave me exactly that. It also gave me full, rounded characters that were believable. and likeable (well, most of them). They also are true characters insofar as the change and develop. That too is important to me and the Shadow Watch did not disappoint.
A very human story, with a moral, but not one that I felt got shoved down my throat. Enjoyable escapism.
The Shadow Watch is absolutely a must read for anyone into fantasy books, it has such incredible writing and the author did an amazing job of creating the fantasy world for this book! I love that it wasn’t predictable at all and had a lot of little surprises. When I read this book for the first time it was on Wattpad when it was just the first draft of the book and I was so invested with everything that happened to the characters (especially Darien) it’s an amazing book and I definitely recommend it to anybody looking for something good to read!
Brilliant book, I read it on Wattpad, then reread after the backstory change. Both times I thought this book was absolutely amazing, Recommend this to anyone who loves magic, fantasy or rebellion topics. If you enjoyed reading Christopher Paolini's Inheritance cycle (Eragon, eldest, Brisingr, inheritance) then I definitely recommend this!
This was pretty good. Fast paced and the characters were likable enough. I didn’t connect with any of them much but they were still enjoyable. I liked Ren at first but then he really annoyed me 🤷🏻♀️ I don’t even know what is going on between him and Tori. Of anything… I’m hoping to like the second book more and hopefully like the characters more than I do. Especially Kale.
Enjoyable story, but *rough* audiobook. The general narration and main male character voices are good, but the females and non-main male voices are distractingly bad. I should have just stuck with my Kindle version. I probably would have rated it higher.
Wished there were more world building involved in the novel it would have made it easier to connect with the way of life in this book.
I didn’t have a connection with any of the characters. There were times where I just didn’t understand where most of the characters were coming from when they were explaining the reason why certain things were done.
I enjoy fantasy books quite a bit, and this was a fantastic start to a series. I definitely liked the development of the fantasy world, with modern advances, a heroine with magic and unique creatures/monsters that separate the novel from others in its genre. I’m excited for future novels within this world/universe.