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‘Shadowland’ – Rhiannon Lassiter

20 September, 2010

I was lucky enough to get hold of a review copy of ‘Shadowland’ by Rhiannon Lassiter in last month’s LibraryThing Early Review books. As I’ve posted my review over on the LibraryThing site, I thought I’d post it here too. As I point out at the end, it’s well worth reading, but probably best to read the series in the correct order – which I didn’t!

Beginning in the Great Library, something of a hub between worlds, SHADOWLAND follows the continuing adventures of four teenagers from Earth and their various non-Earth allies. Most of the action takes place on two very different worlds, Chalice and Fenrisnacht, splitting the main characters into two groups with plots which don’t interconnect, but which advance what characters and readers alike know of a group called the Wheel and the threat it poses.

As an author’s note at the back of the book warns, SHADOWLAND is not a book with a clear-cut beginning or end. It’s abundantly obvious that a great deal has happened to the main characters prior to this book, and that there’s a lot more to come. Still, even without having read the previous two books in the series, there are enough hints about backstory for SHADOWLAND to be both enjoyable and understandable.

There’s certainly a lot to enjoy here, too. The two very different worlds, as well as the Library, are described sparingly but are easy to visual. There’s plenty of in the way of action and plot revelations too, with very little unnecessary exposition to slow down the rapid pace. However, it’s the characters and their interactions that are at the heart of the book, with Laura’s deviousness and Morgan breaking out of her fugue providing the two most fascinating viewpoints.

There are some frustrations, though. Alex’s story, in particular, feels like a bit of a placeholder, giving him something to do while he waits for a chance to meet up with the other main characters again. A convincing antagonist is also lacking, as the Wheel are a fairly vague threat and their leader proves too easy to escape from.

Still, there’s a lot to recommend SHADOWLAND, particularly for readers who want a believable YA fantasy that doesn’t revolve around an unconvincing romance or indeed any fantasy that doesn’t take place in a pseudo-Medieval world. I would take the advice of the author’s note though and start with the first two books in the series, as I feel SHADOWLAND would be even more satisfying after reading those.


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