Release Date: October 25, 2011
Recommended By: Carmel at Rabid Reads
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Purchase: Penguin | Amazon | B-A-M
B&N | Book Depository | IndieBound | Powell's
There can only be one allegiance. It’s her time to choose.
Some humans can see the fae. McKenzie Lewis can track them, reading the shadows they leave behind. But some shadows lead to danger. Others lead to lies.
A Houston college student trying to finish her degree, McKenzie has been working for the fae king for years, tracking vicious rebels who would claim the Realm. Her job isn’t her only secret. For just as long, she’s been in love with Kyol, the king’s sword-master—and relationships between humans and fae are forbidden.
But any hope for a normal life is shattered when she’s captured by Aren, the fierce and uncompromising rebel leader. He teaches her the forbidden fae language and tells her dark truths about the Court, all to persuade her to turn against the king. Time is running out, and as the fight starts to claim human lives, McKenzie has no choice but to decide once and for all whom to trust and where she ultimately stands in the face of a cataclysmic civil war.
I realize that I'm two years too late in reading and reviewing THE SHADOW READER by Sandy Williams and if not for Carmel over at Rabid Reads I would still remain oblivious to this fantastic series! (NOTE: Carmel just launched her virtual tour group and if you love Urban Fantasy & PNR books, sign up with her. She'll hook you up with great tours. #Pimpin)
The main otherworldy creature in this series are the fae and ever since KMM's Fever Series, I haven't read an urban fantasy that had me going gaga over these magical creatures. I mean a lot have tried but there's only a handful that managed to successfully romanticize the fae. Sandy Williams is one of those authors who was able to write a very rewarding concept. The world building is raw and very "fae" (you know like don't drink their Kool-Aid or else), beautiful but blinding. SWilliams' fae didn't stray too far from the archetype, which I love, they're manipulative with huge egos and various complexes, which I hate. Put together they had me flip-flopping like crazy, trying to figure out who's the good guy from the bad. It's worse than watching a tennis match! I have to hold my breath constantly because I don't know which direction the plot is going to turn.
THE SHADOW READER starts right smack in the middle of a fae war so the action/adventure is non-stop. Although not of fae blood and considered an abomination, McKenzie Lewis became a main player in this war. Her loyalty is to the court but after she got abducted by the rebels, McKenzie saw things from a different perspective and now she's in a dilemma. And as if a test to her loyalty isn't enough, she's also in the middle of a tense love triangle. On one side is Kyol, the "good" guy, the fae who's been there for her for 10 years, protecting her and the only person who can stave away her nightmares, her security blanket so to speak. On the other is Aren, the "bad boy", the rebel leader who barreled his way to McKenzie's heart and made it beat a little faster.
I am not the biggest fan of love triangles but there are exceptions, the McKyoRen (go along, I'm feeling "clever" today) triangle is one of them. Good guys are attractive but bad boys are simply irresistible! SWilliams' gave me a good conundrum in the love department because I understand why McKenzie find both guys attractive and in turn, why Kyol and Aren are fighting for their respective sides. Kyol is very principled, loyal to a fault and somewhat of a pacifist; Aren is just as principled, he's also intense and very passionate. For now I'm going with Aren because his lines, his style and the way he is towards McKenzie had my heart pounding in excitement and my knickers in a tight bunch! He may be a rebel but I know he'll take good care of McKenzie.
THE SHADOW READER is beyond a satisfying read. It's exciting in more ways than one and the myth woven with the world building is captivating. What I love most about the story is the conflict, it's not black and white but a deep shade of gray due to the moral dilemmas of the characters. Kyol and McKenzie's in particular, for the longest time they've been serving the Court loyally but because of this rebel war, they're starting to see the flaws of their King. Aren's dilemma by the end is to whether or not keep up the war because of the casualties his camp had on top of his growing feelings for McKenzie. So there's a great mix of moral and romantic tension here which made THE SHADOW READER a page turner and another must-read.
Aren's lines killed me!
He’s had ten years to make you fall in love with him. I haven’t had ten weeks! Tell me how that’s fair!
I'll save your previous sword-master, McKenzie. But I will never, ever give you back to him.