At long last, I’ve found the time to write my review of Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier. I finished reading it in December before the holiday break.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am a fan of Marillier. She is an amazing fantasy author, so I went into this book with high expectations. I wasn’t disappointed. Marillier has this definite way of creating this whole other world that, while recognizable, is its own place. I love books that you can really escape into, where you are so zoned in that you don’t notice until the third time that your husband says something to you that he’s even there. You become that vested in the characters and what is going to happen, emotionally tied to the book, really, and it is awesome.
Here’s the book summary off of Goodreads:
Sixteen-year-old Neryn is alone in the land of Alban, where the oppressive king has ordered anyone with magical strengths captured and brought before him. Eager to hide her own canny skill—a uniquely powerful ability to communicate with the fairy-like Good Folk—Neryn sets out for the legendary Shadowfell, a home and training ground for a secret rebel group determined to overthrow the evil King Keldec.
During her dangerous journey, she receives aid from the Good Folk, who tell her she must pass a series of tests in order to recognize her full potential. She also finds help from a handsome young man, Flint, who rescues her from certain death—but whose motives in doing so remain unclear. Neryn struggles to trust her only allies. They both hint that she alone may be the key to Alban’s release from Keldec’s rule.
Homeless, unsure of who to trust, and trapped in an empire determined to crush her, Neryn must make it to Shadowfell not only to save herself, but to save Alban.
I won’t give away too much from the book, as I don’t want to include spoilers in this review. I agonized over whether Flint was truly good or bad (and I won’t tell you which he really is). I like the faint hints of the Salem Witch Trials (and other events throughout history that targeted people who supposedly had magic) in the way anyone who might have an ability, or is just a little off, is targeted. (It’s a common theme in novels, and it can be overdone, but it’s not here.) I like fantasy which reminds me of Irish mythology, and Marillier’s “Good Folk” are definitely reminiscent of that mythology.
In my opinion, Marillier is a fantastic writer. Anyone looking for a young adult novel with a female protagonist in a “Can I save the world?” type of story should definitely pick this book up. Her others are just as good.
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