Reign of Shadows
Release Date: February 9, 2016
Publisher: Harper Teen
Synopsis on Goodreads:
Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.
But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.
With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.
With lush writing and a star–crossed romance, Reign of Shadows is Sophie Jordan at her best.
What I love most about Reign of Shadows is its ability to bring me back to my favourite book worlds, namely Inkspell by Cornelia Funke. It has this dark fairytale re-telling but Jordan introduces enough elements for it to be classified as original fantasy. The POV alternates between Luna and Fowler and this transition is smooth. I didn’t feel like I was being thrown into the mind of another character after just getting used to the former. I instantly liked Luna, and it was great going on this adventure with her and watching her grow as an individual.
World-building is usually my favourite part of a novel and I’m happy it’s the case here. Luna has lived in a tower all her life and has little experience of the ‘Outside’ world, beyond the Black Woods. Her world is defined as Outside and Inside. Like Luna, the world starts out small for the reader and as she experiences Outside, the same can be said for the reader. This is an intriguing aspect to consider because like Luna, the reader knows there’s more to Jordan’s world than the Black Woods, but no limit has been set. I also loved the idea of a world shaped by darkness, with only an hour of midlight. There are bats four feet wide, huge eels, and my favourite, dark dwellers – creatures that live in the earth and feed on anything in their path. I love the idea of things you can only imagine becoming real.
Jordan places an emphasis on character development, mostly focusing on Luna and Fowler. This one-on-one interaction is great for the reader, who gets to know both characters while the two get to know each other. I found Luna shared more to the reader than Fowler, but I liked trying to figure out Fowler’s past. There’s a lot of romance and while I did enjoy it, I found it moved too fast in the beginning; it was almost cheesy. Life-and-death situations do bring people closer, but at the end of the day Luna and Fowler are still strangers. It was more believable near the end.
I loved the plot up until the end when the book ended on a cliffhanger. This ended up confusing me and my interpretation of the plot. At the beginning the main characters set out to find Allu, a mythical land free of dwellers. Analyzing it a bit more, you could also say Luna’s goal is to not live in the tower the rest of her life (which is accomplished). I haven’t seen this advertised as a series, but even if there’s a sequel in the works I personally feel book #1 should always have some sort of conclusion. It’s fine to include that possibility of more, but I don’t believe there should be a huge cliffhanger. As weird as it sounds I still enjoyed the adventure, even with my confusion of the plot.
Jordan’s writing has good flow and she’s at the stage where she’s in-tune with her writing. Jordan knows what words to choose and creates an almost poetic element to the book. Even with the plot confusion, Jordan has gained a new reader and I’m 100% certain I’ll read a sequel. I recommend Reign of Shadows for fans of Cornelia Funke and Stacey Jay.
I received an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review.