Synopsis: 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.
McKenzie Lewis, Book 1
Our review: The Shadow Reader is an amazing book! Yes, Yes, I can tell it. After reading so many great reviews about this novel, I just wanted one thing: To read it and get into the story to know by myself how it really was. And I can tell I’m not disappointed! I was a little afraid in the beginning that it wasn’t the case. Indeed, it was a little difficult to get in the story with the first pages, but this feeling has changed quite fast.
McKenzie is an amazing young woman, even if sometimes we wonder if she isn’t also too naïve. We understand her feelings, her desire to become like every person and not be mixed with this magical world which was so attractive when she was younger. Who would not want to have the possibility to be part of the fairy court? To live with the faes? But nothing is what it seems to be and McKenzie will be quickly mixed with some big events. I was really impressed by the McKenzie’s loyalty all along the book. It’s very difficult for her to trust the people around her, but when it’s the case, her trust is really solid. It’s a beautiful quality but in the same time it’s complicated for her too to see the true sometimes.
We meet in this book some really interesting characters and it’s pleasant to like them, hate them and doubt them. During this whole book, our heart balances between Kyol and Aren despite they are very different. It’s still difficult at the end of the book to really understand them. Our feelings will change all along the story as we try to know what really happens.
The story is captivating; we discover a new world which mixes some new intriguing ideas. As we can read it in the synopsis, McKenzie has an incredible gift: she can read the shadows i.e. when a fae opens a break into another realm, she can determine easily the localization. Therefore she is a good ally for battles. It’s a fascinating universe we discover with a new way of life. It’s always so interesting to learn the ideas of each author. Indeed, it was very difficult to put this novel down before reaching the end. We get quickly into the story, there are no breaks, and, action is all along the book with a frenetic rhythm. So we stay curious about everything until the end.
Therefore it’s a really great book, and I strongly recommend it. I can’t wait to read the second novel.
The Shadow Reader was one of the French releases that I was eager to read in this early year. After reading many good reviews about this saga, especially Melliane’s review, I was desperately waiting to get my copy and finally started reading it! Well I must say that I loved this novel as I was unable to put the book down. I admit that I had some difficulties to like McKenzie at the beginning because she was really getting up my nose but then I got used to her character and finally ended up appreciating her.
McKenzie is a student with a very special ability that makes her an object of desire for the faes. She is also a young woman who does her best to have a normal life even if it is impossible because the Court is constantly calling her to read the shadows. McKenzie would like to leave the war raging between the faes behind her, but she feels indebted to the Court who has always protected her from the rebels. Then there is Kyol, the handsome king’s sword-master, the man she loves in secret for ten years. Despite the fact that the king prohibits any relationships between humans and fae, she remains very faithful to the Court and helps Kyol to track down the opponents of the king as best she can.
When the rebels kidnap her, she constantly tries to escape. She is brave but what we will particularly retain about McKenzie is that she is a young woman very stubborn who refuses to believe she might be wrong, that the ones she always took as the good guys could lie to her. Despite all the Aren’s efforts to persuade her that it is not them the bad guys but the Court, she continues to support the king. I found her attitude annoying, as she reacts like that during the first half of the book, and even after. It’s unfortunate that she is so stubborn. However she has extenuating circumstances: she always believed that the rebels were monsters, she was brainwashed by the Court.
Kyol is a very interesting character. Always serious and rigid, he shows his emotions only when he is alone with McKenzie. His loyalty to his king jeopardizes their relationship. His devotion is such to the point that he relegates her into the background. As relationships between humans and faes are forbidden, he prefers to comply with this rule rather than rebel, fight for their love and stand up against the king. Although I do not like his choices (she waited for him for 10 years!) I have to admit that he was touching and I wonder now how things will evolve between him and McKenzie. Concerning Aren, euh… what can I say about him except that he is my favorite character! He is the opposite of Kyol. His smiles and his mischievous look melt me completely. I love him! Then he is such patient with McKenzie that we can only admire him! Frankly, I wondered how he could keep such a calm face so much stubbornness. In this first book, we also meet other rebels such as Lena, Kelia, Naito or Lorn. I found them all endearing.
The world created by Sandy Williams is very interesting, rich but not too complex. We discover the Realm, a world quite distinct from the one of humans, with its own customs, its own language and even its own currency. I found this very interesting. Sandy Williams’s writing style is fluid. We are not lost in a mass of details and descriptions as it is often the case with fantasy novels. The fact that there are a lot of fae terms does not interfere with the reading. I also liked the idea of chaos lusters – a sort of light which appears when a fae and a human touch each other and then traverses their skin. I found these chaos lusters very original and then they bring so much more intensity to the scenes between McKenzie and Aren or Kyol. Finally, I must say that Sandy Williams was right when she talked about the wedding scene in her last guest post: it is undoubtedly the best scene of the book. At least it is my favorite!
To conclude, I loved The Shadow Reader. The story is captivating and well cadenced. There is a lot of action. It is a great adventure novel that I recommend to anyone who likes stories about the faes. I can’t wait to read the next one.