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Shadowfell is a YA fantasy, and the first in a trilogy, by Juliet Marillier.

For years now, Neryn has been living a Nomadic existence – always trying to stay one step ahead of the Cull. In Alban, now that Keldec is king and has been for years, having even a suspicion of magical power is a death sentence – perhaps on your whole village.

Neryn has seen the devastation with her own two eyes. The haunting images are burned into her mind.

Having the ability to see and speak with the fey beings called Good Folk is means of instant enslavement. And because of the fear of everyone living in Alban, Neryn can trust no one – and she cannot blame them. If whispers reached the Cull that anyone had harbored, helped, or not reported anyone suspected with magical power they can be handed a discipline just as harsh.

Now alone, destitute, and so very weary, Neryn clings to the one hope – Shadowfell. A place where those who disagree with Keldec’s ways, and want to go about reclaiming their kingdom, live and train. No one even dares speak the name. But Neryn is determined to find her way there.

Her journey brings her into contact with Flint – an inscrutable, quiet stranger that seems helpful. She also comes across Good Folk that speak of tests, trials, and prophecies.

Despite her longing to have a friend, to trust someone, Neryn knows that she cannot. She must work to avenge her family, salvage her own life, and be the person her grandmother wanted her to be…

But will she make it to Shadowfell on her own?

Reading a pure fantasy novel can be very nice. In Shadowfell, Neryn is a sympathetic character. I appreciated her strength and devotion to apply the principals her grandmother taught her to her difficult life. She was admirable.

This world, Alban, is in a state of fear and horror. It was palpable, and quite often saddening. The Good Folk, when they come in the picture, are charming and give a touch of whimsy, but the darkness is still felt. You can sense the stakes here.

At times I felt that Shadowfell was a little slow, but at the same time it has an epic journey feel to it. So, when every once in a while the novel fell into what felt like a lull, it was still good – and usually was working on character development.

In the end, despite sometimes scenes or paragraphs feeling drawn-out, a core of deep feeling, love, and hope made Shadowfell a book to appreciate.

And it gave me plenty of reasons to seek out the sequel. Shadowfell is really a great book for fantasy lovers that want compelling character growth and a quest for something bigger than oneself. I liked it quite a bit!


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