Jocelyn “Jinxy” Lancaster is having a horrible week. Her dream of becoming a famous indie musician is going nowhere, her day job in her tourist-friendly hometown of Bridgepoint is in danger of disappearing, and to top it all off, it’s almost the ten-year anniversary of her Mom’s death.
When her best friend Grace gives her a wish keeper to help change her luck, she decides she’s got nothing left to lose.
At first it seems like she’s on her way to getting everything she desires. Then the people close to her begin acting strangely. She’s having trouble remembering things, and at night, she’s being haunted by dreams she can’t explain.
Then the best night of her life happens—and all hell breaks loose.
Now it’s up to Jocelyn to try and undo what she’s created and save everyone she loves from chaos and destruction. And maybe, if she’s incredibly lucky, she can even save herself….
Sue Archer has been writing stories ever since she purchased a typewriter at age eight. She is on a lifelong quest to read all the things and has been spotted haunting the stacks in several towns throughout Ontario, Canada. While waiting for her chance to open a doorway to another world, she is writing about Bridgepoint, a town where magic and mayhem are always just around the corner.
Fortune's Shadow is the debut novel of Sue Archer. This is her first, but hopefully not her last. :) I received an ARC of this book a couple weeks ago, hence the super quick review.
Let's jump right into the cons, first off. Please note here that many of these cons are things specific to me or simply the reality of this being book numero uno in a series.
* The book is rather heavy on describing visuals. This actually isn't a bad thing by itself! But I have a wee bit of aphantasia and do not imagine what I read, so visual descriptions tend to make me impatient unless they're pertinent to the plot. So this is a con specific to me and not the writing; the actual descriptions are fine, and I suspect they're clear enough and compelling enough for those who DO imagine what they read to, well, imagine it.
* Fortune's Shadow has a bit of a slow start. Don't fret, however, because many fantastic authors have this problem, and the later portions of the book make up for it. There's only so much you can do in the beginning stages of a book to catch someone's attention, and it's rare that I find myself invested from the get-go. Keep in mind that this may just be a "me" problem, and again, not something specific to the writing. As contrast, Fortune's Shadow is quicker in getting to the good stuff than V.E. Schwab's writing, and I love Schwab's books! I mention this con only to encourage people to STICK WITH IT if they find their attention waning in the first act.
* The world struggles to feel truly alive. This is a problem unique to Fortune's Shadow being the first book in a series. Info-dumping the reader would be worse, but this does have the issue where a lot of the lore is vague. Consider it laying a foundation for a house. Just the foundation isn't super enticing, but once the house gets built, you'll be glad that foundation is there. Many of the questions I have regarding the lore can be answered with "Read the second book."
So this con is really, "Where's the second book, Sue?!"
* There is some character linearity. I enjoyed that the introduction of a strange character didn't end up in a bamboozle (about the best way I can phrase it without spoiling anything), but the characters by and large were What You See Is What You Get. There's little deviance from how they are introduced. Again, this might be something that's only relevant to this being the first book. It'll be easier to instill dynamic, unstable characters once the main cast is known. As is, you won't be surprised by any of the characters. Is that bad? I'm not sure, but it did stand out to me. I'm used to books throwing you a 180 at least once or twice.
* It's a little short. Well, actually, this isn't true. The length is average for a novel, I'm pretty sure, but I'm just getting off a ride of reading books in my e-reader that were 1000+ pages, and using the same settings, Fortune's Shadow was just over 450. I burned through this book in a single day with time to spare. If you like a shorter read, this is perfect. If you like a slower burn, you'll find yourself wanting more. Although wanting more could be a very good problem to have, from a certain point of view.
* The quality of the writing is great. Many authors have voice issues, habits they stick to that make reading a slog or less than what it could be. Sue's writing is concentrated and paced well; while the substance of a scene may not be inherently important, she keeps you moving along and you know there won't be any dilly-dallying. This is reassuring, because it's all too common that a book will get "stuck" in a scene and not know how to step out of it. This does not happen in Fortune's Shadow, ever.
* The Yu family is expertly written. Jocelyn is a fine enough character in her own right, but the Yus stuck out to me. Auntie was enticing, Grace was a charismatic force, and the brothers were set up for future shenanigans in the series. They are an excellent "sidekick" range of characters, and I hope they are prominent in later books.
* Resolving a major conflict in Jocelyn's life allows for deeper, more meaningful connections and stories later in the series. Doing this in the first book was appreciated; I would have hated for it to have been strung along for multiple books.
* I enjoyed myself. It usually takes me a while to finish a book, reading 10-30 pages a day. But as mentioned above, I finished Fortune's Shadow in a single day. I picked it up, I started reading, and I put it down when I was finished. This is rare. The short length makes this less impressive, but my restrained reading is true regardless of length. So the pro here is that it kept my attention from beginning to end. I wanted to know what happened next, so I kept going to find out. I'm usually okay with just putting a book down for a while, but here I wanted to read it all at once.
* The book is set up for a series. As you read in my cons, some of them were exclusive to "first book in a series" syndrome. While they can be seen as cons, this can also be seen as a pro. Often, you don't know why a story has been written for a series. The story is too self-contained, or you have no idea what could really be done next that would be appealing. Fortune's Shadow, while it is a satisfying read by itself, DOES leave you wanting more. You want to learn more about the world and you want to see what happens next. This means there's a series to be had. Of course, the flip side of this is that there's just the one book, and it's uncertain when the next will come out. If you're the sort to want to jump into a series once it's found its feet, you should wait, but you should not forget about Nexus Chronicles. Set a calendar reminder about this. It will be worth it.
In conclusion, Fortune's Shadow was an excellent debut novel, and a great first entry in a series. I expect future books to be just as good as this one. I look forward to being a fan of Sue's work, should she keep writing and publishing.
Take a little young adult angst with depth, throw in some paranormal happenings, and top it off with great characters, and you have a winning read in Archer's paranormal fantasy. Its smooth prose and well-executed plot make for a page-turning read!
Everyone’s heard the phrase — “Be careful what you wish for.” This story gives new meaning to those sage words.
Joss Lancaster’s life seems to be stuck in neutral. Her singing career is going nowhere, her job and only source of income may be headed south, and it’s nearly the tenth anniversary of the worst time of her life, the night her mother died. Her best friend, Grace, tries to help Joss out of her funk by giving her a mystical wish keeper she created herself. What they don’t realize is that otherworldly forces have gotten caught up in the making of the wish keeper with dangerous and potentially catastrophic results.
It didn’t take me long to read through this story. I loved the characters, particularly the Yu family with their quirky personalities and interesting history. The supernatural elements were intriguing and the suspense, real. I also enjoyed the budding romance between Joss and Ray, a reporter who is definitely not what he seems. The ending was poignant, but satisfying, with a loose thread or two left dangling for future entanglements. I’m looking forward to reading more of the adventures of Joss and Ray and Grace!
I would absolutely recommend this book to any fans of paranormal/urban fantasy.
Just as an FYI — the story does contain a bit of language/profanity.
*** I received an advanced reader copy of this book. ***
This is such a charming book. The paranormal element builds slowly through the first half, so it almost feels like you're reading a contemporary YA, with just hints that something is not right. It feels like you're on the incline of a roller coaster, click-click-clicking to the top, and then at the midpoint you reach the top and the rest is a wild ride. The "magical" element (I don't want to spoil it) is fresh and unique. I also really appreciated that the protagonist has a team, with friends who help out—it's a bit like Buffy—instead of being the only one with special powers who can save the world.
I enjoyed this debut novel. The characters, especially Jocelyn and the Yu family, felt true to life and were fun to spend time with. The story was, overall, well-paced, if a tiny bit slow to start. Additionally, the writing was vivid, making it easy to visualise the story as it played out. Finally, the themes the author explores are intriguing and well-handled. These include: loss, female friendship, family, thwarted ambition and desire and, of course, the underlying current of real magic running through all our lives that so often goes unnoticed. I look forward to reading more of Sue Archer’s work in future!
Highly recommended read. So engrossed with the story and so impressed at the author's imagination and how it was expressed in writing. Would be a good idea for a movie. Can't wait for the next book Sue!
An intriguing & engaging plot. Strong, complete character sketches. The writing style is smooth & conversational, making this a page-turner. Looking forward to the sequel cause I'm sure there's more to be revealed here.
An engaging read with strong friendships and powerful women. Really enjoyable and fast-moving plot. Lots of paranormal events and entities that will no doubt be built on in the following books. Bring it on!
Fortune's Shadow is a paranormal novel about a young woman who makes a wish and sets off a series of paranormal events in her town. Though Jocelyn wishes that people would listen to her, the mystery unfolds as you learn about what is being left unsaid between characters, especially between parents and children. The story begins by focusing on Jocelyn, but as the paranormal events unfold, Jocelyn is surrounded by an ensemble of interesting characters who must all work together to contain what has been unleashed on their town. It's a story about opening up and revealing difficult truths in order to learn to trust each other, trust yourself, and and face the difficult parts of the past in order to save the future. I really enjoyed the pacing, build-up, and the layers of this novel, and I look forward to reading more in this series.