Author: Juliet Marillier
Series: Shadowfell #1
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: September 11, 2012
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 requested this because I’ve heard great things about Juliet Marillier’s books, but I haven’t actually read one of her books before, so I thought this would be a good experience. I read the blurb as well and thought that it would be something I enjoy. I rarely read fantasies, but I usually enjoy them whenever I get a chance to read them.
Anyway, I know sometimes it takes a bit to get into a good fantasy, because you have to become acclimated to the new world. At first, I thought that was the case with this book and kept waiting for the pace to pick up, but it never did. The book is super SLOW!!! The entire book is about Neryn’s journey to Shadowfell, but omg this girl is so depressing! Her thoughts are also very repetitive. I’m really sick and tired of how often she thinks about her grandmother and her past and Alban’s oppression. I get it. Your world sucks! Basically, she thinks about the same things over and over. I also lost count of how often she’s tired, or sick, or weary to the bone. She’s that way for the entire book! I got sick and tired from just reading about her thinking about how tired she is.
The book is super descriptive. Ms. Marillier’s writing is beautiful, but it becomes tedious after a while to read about the endless descriptions of the landscape. Usually, I really enjoy stuff like the Good Folk, but I really couldn’t keep track of what each one of them looked like. Also, the descriptive writing really suppressed a lot of emotions. I couldn’t feel any excitement from the characters. Sometimes a short sentence works a lot better in conveying emotions than a long one imo, so when everything is analyzed to its barest detail, like in this book, everything was flat. The author also told us what happened most of the time instead of showing us. Neryn narrated what everyone did for the most part instead of having the action actually happening in the story.
The story itself is also very predictable. Neryn is the Chosen One, you know, the one who will save all! As always, she struggles internally with the task placed before her, doubting herself. On her journey, she didn’t really do anything. She received a lot of help, but I feel that she’s always very passive. She always does what other people tell her. Basically, she never would’ve made it to Shadowfell if not for others helping her. In the end, I didn’t care if she made it to Shadowfell, I only cared that the book will be over by then.
So, finishing this book is more a testament to my patience, or stupidity, depending on how you look at it. The book isn’t any more exciting at the end than it was at the beginning. I’m so disappointed that I didn’t end up liking this after hearing so many praises for this author’s work.
*A copy was provided by publisher for review purposes. All opinions expressed are my own and I was not compensated for my review.