TheShadow Reader was the first Urban Fantasy I've read this year; in fact, it really was my first 2012 book. You should have seen me then, just after the New Year's, carrying my Kindle everywhere I went, not sleeping, eating or doing anything else until it was over. No, if I remember this correctly, I think I had these great ideas for the review when I was seven pages away from finishing the book, and I left it to write them down. Crazy, isn't it? I was so in love with the world-building and the characters, the story, everything that I practically begged for an ARC of the second book - it didn't even have a name back then. And I got it!
If there's a book more engaging, action packed, more heartbreaking - in a single word, AMAZING - than The Shadow Reader, that's its sequel, The Shattered Dark. Yes, I must admit, Sandy did it for me twice this year, and I'm certain I won't read a better Urban Fantasy story soon. If I want to keep my sanity, that is.
I missed the characters a lot, especially Aren; I've had a soft spot for him from the beginning. But all of them are changed, more mature, more on the edge, and in more danger than before. You'd think there's nothing dangerous than being a rebel in the Realm, trying to overthrow the King, and achieving this goal should bring some peace, but it's never like this, not in real life and not in The Shattered Dark. The real hard work comes after that, in trying to convince the rest of the fey that they only want what's best for the Realm and they fought for the right cause. A different kind of war is starting, and nobody knows who will win this time.
I've missed you. I've been wanting to see you, too, just not like . . ." He stops, clenches his jaw, then continues. "Not here. Not like this."
He almost sounds pained. I scan him, searching for injuries. He looks okay, but he looks different. He's not the same Aren who held me captive. That Aren was cavalier and sly, always ready with one of his infuriating half grins. This Aren is tense. Stressed-out. I want to help him, but I don't know how.
Even if Aren is changed, one thing remains the same: he still tries to win McKenzie over in every way he can. And she's very hard to convince, because she doesn't want to make the same mistakes again. After loving Kyol for ten years, waiting for and accepting anything from him, she wants her relationship with Aren to be different, she wants them to know each other better and take things slowly.
Aren pulls me gently toward him. "You told me you wanted time. I've given it to you, and I'll give you as long as you need, McKenzie. I love you." He tucks a lock of my hair behind my ear. "You're worth waiting a decade for."
...but this is London. There's so much history here. And never mind that this is the homeland of Shakespeare and Jane Austen, King's Cross Station is somewhere around here.
I want to see Platform Ã‚Â¾. I swear, one of these days, I'm going to have a fae fissure me here for a vacation.
"You're alive in this city," Aren says. [...] You're more mesmerized by this place than by any place I've seen you in the Realm."
"That's because no one's trying to kill me here," I say.
No one's trying to kill me here yet. I'm surprised Aren doesn't point that out, but he just smiles as he watches me, and my stomach does a little flip. It's as if seeing me here like this makes him happy, and just for a moment, I let myself think about what it would be like to walk down this street with Aren without any worries about the remnants or Paige.
That's what we need, time to be together without all the pressures of the war.
Unfortunately, time is one thing they don't have, because the war is not over, her best friend, Paige, was kidnapped by King Atroth's remaining minions, who are determined to win back the Palace, and there's a part of Aren's past that makes her decisions even more difficult to make.
"If I could undo my past for you, McKenzie, I would. But I don't have that power. No fae does."
"Anything else you want to confess?"
That gets under his skin. The silver in his eyes seems to sharpen, and he takes a step forward, pressing his body against mine so that I have to move back.
"The complete truth, McKenzie, is I'd do anything for you, but you ask for nothing. You won't confide in me. You won't rely on me. You're so preoccupied trying to decide if you can trust your feelings that you won't consider giving in to them."
And if you read the quotes above, you already know why I love Aren so much, why I'm in his team even if he did do bad things sometime in the past. It's because he's...well, Aren. He's unique, one of the best ALPHA's I've ever met. He's all strong, and bad-ass, and reckless, but he also has a soft, loving side, that he's not trying to hide, unlike someone else. Aren is the brightest diamond of this story, the perfect book boyfriend, you can't help but love him and wish the best happily ever after for him.
Aren has a reputation for crazy plans that work.
"I'm not a mistake, McKenzie," he says softly
Nothing matters but him and us and this, the way he makes me feel like I'm everything to him. Sometime in the last month, he's become everything to me.
One character I didn't think I could start to care about after finishing The Shadow Reader is Lena. She's way better in this book; in fact, she grew on me a lot. Her attitude is changed, you can feel the huge burden she's carrying on her shoulders, a lot of lives are in her hands, but she's strong, and she's making the right decisions. I couldn't have imagined that she'll start seeing McKenzie as a friend, and she also shows a protective side.
"I'll kill you if you hurt Aren," she says without turning.
She's confiding in me? What am I supposed to do with that? Never mind that I suck at girl talk, she's Lena.
And I finally got to Kyol. GOD I wish I could be more objective when it comes to him, but I just can't be. I wasn't his biggest fan from the start, even if I know he's the real hero, that he's the one who makes the greatest sacrifices, sometimes he almost breaks my heart - and now there's a big BUT coming - but, I can't get these two words out of my head: "How convenient!" I'm anxiously waiting for your opinion regarding his actions, because in my book, he still says "I'm sorry." too often. I wish I could see him differently, I know some of you will, and I even feel a little bit guilty for not giving him more of my thoughts.
I'm going to finish now, because I don't want to spoil anything for you, and I've saved some quotes....WOW! You'll just have to read the book yourself to find them.
I know I should say something about Sandy, but I don't know what, there are no words to describe how magnificent she is! Her writing is flawless, the world-building is incredible, and her story is original, action packed, with strong built characters. When you'd think there's nothing new and unique you could read in the Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance genre, try McKenzie's story. I guarantee you'll love it! I just wish for her faery tale to have a happy ending.
...if I have to fight for him now, I will.
Happy reading!show more