The Shadow Reader (McKenzie Lewis #1)
by Sandy Williams
Published: October 25th 2011
by Ace; Paperback, 307 pages
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.
OMG, you guys! This book was so freaking awesome! It’s been a while since I read an Adult Urban Fantasy book and I loved it so much, that I wanted to rave about it here on the blog too (and not just drive crazy my FB/Twitter/Goodreads friends). I’m very picky when it comes to Fae/Faeries books (you can blame the Fever series for that, it’s a hard one to follow), but this one was fabulous, the plot was very original and captivating! It’s a very complex book that kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time! It has strong, like-able main characters, interesting story, wonderful world building, fast paced action, kick ass scenes, engrossing plot and just the perfect amount of romance… It’s everything a good UF series should be – and more!
Also, if you’ve read my rant on love triangles a few weeks ago, you know I’m not their biggest fan. But this love triangle?! Oh my! It’s one of the best! It drove me crazy most of the time – but that’s one of the reasons I loved it so much, hehe! Seriously, I was more than halfway through the book and I was still bewildered and confused; each character grew on me without me even realizing it and I had no idea who was the bad guy and what team was I supposed to be. Which is crazy (and very rare), because when it comes to love triangles, I always know who the right choice is; I pick a team from the very start and end up immensely annoyed with the other guy and I just want him out of the way. :)) Well, it wasn’t the case here. On the contrary, just like our heroine, I wanted them both and I felt myself pulled in two very different and very appealing directions!
Ok, I already got lost in the awesomeness that is The Shadow Reader. Let me get back to the beginning:
McKenzie Lewis is a shadow reader; not only she can see the Fae, but she can also see the shadows they leave behind every time they leave the Mortal realm (when they fissure out or sift). She can draw maps based upon those shadows and determine their next location. And because of her strong and rare ability, she’s been working for the Fae Kingdom for the last 10 years, helping the king in tracking dawn and catching the bad guys (rebellious, dangeorus Fae who live outside the Kingdom and don’t follow any of the rules), pointing the King’s men in their direction. She’s been trying to be ok with working with Kyol (the King's sword-master), dealing with her forbidden feelings for him and living a normal, collage student life this whole time… But everything turns upside down when she’s kidnapped by the rebels’ leader, Aren. He takes her to the rebels’ camp and tries to persuade her into reading the shadows for them, because apparently they need her to prove they are not the bad guys and they have to do justice for the Realm. Lost already? Well, don’t worry, it gets even more twisted and complicated. ;) While staying with the rebels, McKenzie learns all kind of weird and unexpected things about them and even about the Court; yet, she doesn’t trust any of them and she tries to stay loyal to the Court, without revealing any of its secrets. She keeps trying to escape – but to no avail. She also gets to know Aren and his ‘people’ a bit better – and slowly she finds herself questioning her own reality and loyalties. Letting Aren plant the seed of the doubt in her heart is so wrong – bu also so inevitable! Because the rebels seem to have a good cause – and maybe, just maybe they are not the bad guys after all. Maybe they do try to get to the Court and claim it because it’s corrupt and the King used her to go after innocent people and gain all the power instead. She can’t let appearances, her insecurities and her growing feelings for Aren (wait – when did she go from hating Aren to trusting him and, even worse, having feelings for him?) make her doubt Kyol and the Fae who have been a big part of her life for so long… right? Speaking of Kyol – what’s his deal? Why hasn’t he done anything for her until now? What’s his role in this war? Is he really corrupt or just being played? Can she trust him again? Yeah… That’s the kind of questions that torment McKenzie throughout the book – as if all the dangerous situations and action weren’t enough to give her nightmares. Because before she knows it, she’s thrust in the middle of a civil war and she’s being pulled in two directions without any chance of escape. Well, not without losing a part of herself and her heart in the process, anyway.
As I was saying, this is a very complex novel. The Fae politics, the war battles, the twists and all that make the plot interesting, but the characters are unique, very well crafted and so real! They grow with each chapter and their emotional turmoil makes them more believable, easier to connect with.
*sigh* This review doesn't make the book any justice; I could talk about The Shadow Reader forever! It’s so tiny, yet so intense! There are so many nuances! Not to mention that the plot grabs you from the very first page! If you start reading it, you can’t put it down until you finish it, it’s as simple as that. And did I mention how hot, mysterious, kind, badass and *introduces all the adjectives that describe a perfect male lead character here* Aren is?! *swoon*
So… I initially wanted to give this book a 4.5 (McKenzie annoyed me at some point and I just couldn’t get why the two men were so crazy about her), but then I remembered that this is only the first book in the series, and as far as starts of series go, this one is as close to being perfect as it can get.
Now, Ms Williams, I hope you’ve already written book #2 and you’re at the final edits stages or something equally close to the book being finished and published, yes? *taps foot impatiently* *just kidding**needs sequel like yesterday**gets teary-eyed remembering that ending**gets even more impatient*
Ok, I’m done now. Bottom line, The Shadow Reader is a must-read for the Urban Fantasy fans. It definitely goes on my keeper (re-reads) shelf!
P.S. Remember when was the last time I gave a UF book a 5 stars rating? Yes, this book is that good!