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Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier
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's review
Mar 28, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: isn-t-it-neat
Read from September 08 to 09, 2012

***4.5 out of 5 stars***

Review: I’d heard of Juliet Marillier of course. Luckily for me, I began reading Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier with a fresh perspective and virtually no expectations, making it quite simple for me to love this book, though I didn’t do all the work. If you’re going to read a questing fantasy novel, read one by Juliet Marillier. Because unlike some of the more verbosely written novels out there, with excessively lush depictions that can get very tedious very quickly, Marillier’s Alban is described with just the right amount of rich prose to make the world vibrant and easy to imagine without courting tedium. And in spite of the plot being primarily focused on Neryn’s journeying on foot, I was never bored. Sharp winds and treacherous passes coupled with the creeping tension and fear of capture, as well as many rocky encounters with mischievous beings, propels the fantastic structure of the plot. So, I ask you, would you give a frak that the girl is merely walking the whole time?

Two things I’ve seen mentioned as qualms for Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier are Neryn and her relationship with Flint, her mysterious on-and-off companion along her journey. Neryn shouldn’t be written off so easily as just an eyerollably sympathetic, angelic, do-gooder. For me, Shadowfell and Neryn’s goodness are about the struggle and difficulty behind ever attempting to do the right, honest, generous thing. And, though Neryn does her best, she still has a lot to learn about people, forgiveness, trust, sacrifice, and duty, and she is gradually taught the hard way. She is more than just the mistrustful, intelligent, naïve young girl from the beginning, and slowly, continually evolves into someone who can learn to be the hero the people will need. As for the mysterious, suspicious, stoic companion Neryn finds herself reluctantly attached to, the connection she shares with Flint builds following an agonizing pace. They’re both highly distrustful, yet they find themselves timidly slipping out of their armors while not quite aware of their doing it. Flint needs salvation; Neryn needs reliability and loyalty, and with this first book alone, it’s quite evident that the two will be able to give what the other is missing with time. Their romance is the kind of quiet, steady-building tension that bursts in a subtle explosion to carry us through the wait of their next encounter, the kind of relationship that rejuvenates.

Then, there’s the atmospheric and thorough writing involved in the story. Descriptions aside, even though the harsh, possibly evil king is never physically introduced, the reach of his cruelty and terrible power permeates Neryn’s journey with tension that is almost palpable. I will say that I am slightly disappointed that this king is only an elusively fearful presence, but the power and skill Marillier wields makes itself known in the mood alone. I also appreciated the depth of her research, her inclusion of fantastical elements such as magic, sorcerory, and the Good Folk which each possess a vivid, dimensional quality that makes them seem ancient, timeless. In Shadowfell, Juliet Marillier takes simplistic, common concepts and gives them an edge, writes them in a way that makes it almost unique without reaching a groundbreaking level. This is what makes it great, as it’s comfortably familiar whilst maintaining a memorable uniqueness. It’s that that makes Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier more than just a book, but an immersive, imaginative story alive with magical vibrancy that can be seen and felt so clearly, it’s quite incredible.

Most Likely to Be Enjoyed By: This is Scottish medieval high fantasy, guys and Gaga. It’s bound for awesomeness by default. My research says, however, that if you’re a long-time Marillier fan you won’t be as likely to fall in love with Neryn as she’s not the strong-willed heroine you might be accustomed to. That being said, impressionable non-fans might have an easier time meshing with this book, and enjoying it for what is as opposed to drowning in unfulfilled expectations. If you’re into perilous quests, an evolving heroine, a slow-paced romance, and beautiful world-building, then I can’t find fault with recommending this book to all lovers of fantasy.

Content Warning: There is a brief moment of sexual harassment, but nothing overwhelming. There is some violence that eventually progresses to the visibly bloody and painful stage, as well as death.

Originally posted at Paranormal Indulgence, where you can find quotes and more recommendations after reading Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier.

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Reading Progress

09/08/2012 page 2
9.0% "Really enjoying this already... Will commence in the morning :)"
20.0% "Really loving this..."
30.0% "So, so into this book. This is amazing fantasy right here!! And so frigging interesting!"
100.0% "Excellent."
05/07/2016 marked as: read
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