Book Review: Shadowfell

Published By: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 11, 2012
Page Count: 416
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by the Publisher via NetGalley
Audience: Young Adult - Fantasy

If Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder and The Iron King by Julie Kagawa had a love child, Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier would be it. This is a tale of a journey to truth and of self-discovery, and it made for great reading. 

The story focuses on Neryn; a young girl who is utterly alone. Her family have all died, with the exception of her father, who gambles her in a game of chance and loses. She is homeless, without hope, and afraid for her life, because she is gifted with the ability to see the Good Folk, or Fae, and this means she could be put to death by her fearful King. She is rescued by Flint, a hooded stranger who cloaks himself in mystery. He urges her to trust him, but Neryn is just too damaged to trust anyone, so she sets out to cross the land in hope of reaching Shadowfell - a place whispered to exist where people like her are safe.

Along the way she starts to give in to her gift and explore her abilities. It soon becomes clear that the Fae view her as a rarity, and they have a vested interest in her survival. Neryn struggles along her path, making decisions of varying quality, but I really enjoyed her development. She demonstrates a number of characteristics that make her really interesting to me as a reader, as well as to the Fae. There are some really cool supporting characters in the book, and it was no surprise to me that Flint returned to assist her journey - he was just too interesting and too well written to forget about! 

Both Neryn and Flint struggle with ghosts from their past, necessary misdeeds and their feelings for each other as they journey together, and there is a very understated romance between the two of them which made me feel quite warm inside. This has the potential to develop in a very pleasing way in the next book, Raven Flight (2013). 

All in all, I really enjoyed this and I'm looking forward to the next installment. It is highly imaginative, and the fantasy element which I love from Maria V. Snyder's writing was there in spades: I can really get behind a heroine who is honest and flawed but tries hard to improve herself.

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.


  1. I reeeally need to get around to read Juliet Marillier. I have the first book of her Daughter of the Forest series because a friend promised it's amazing. And from this review, I can tell I'll enjoy her writing!

    Great review!

  2. Great review Jen! Dazzling Mage...I have a couple of good friends who ADORE Juliet Marillier and I'll be reading Daughter of the Forest soon! I'm looking forward to checking out this book as well!


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