SHADOWFELL is the long, sweet build-up of what promises to be a fantastic adventure. Though Neryn starts the book as a dependent, subject to her father's whims, she very quickly emerges as a strong, kind-hearted heroine with a surprising capacity for saying, "No".
It is apparent that this stubbornness is rooted in mistrust, which means I never grew impatient with her unwillingness to accept help. Both human and uncanny, the people of Alban are so abused and tormented by their king, very few have the luxury of offering any sort of kindness. Even more so, even when contact with The Good Folk wasn't forbidden by law, in classic fairy tale fashion, it pays to be wary and careful of interactions with uncanny creatures. I liked the uncertainty of not knowing if Neryn would was making the right decisions along her journey. In matters of generosity, Neryn is the typical heroine with a heart of gold. In matters of courage, however, she must navigate the fine line between kindness and foolhardiness, bravery and pigheadedness… forgiveness and naiveté. In a vacuum Neryn leans towards the Mary Sue end of the spectrum, but Marillier’s exploration of how armed conflict impacts communities and individuals brings nuance and tenderness to the relationships in this story.
I have long been a fan of Marillier’s books and SHADOWFELL is no exception. Her brand of magic and romance translates beautifully to Young Adult, and I can’t wait to follow this new young heroine on the next phase of her journey.
Full review to follow.
Sexual Content: Kissing, discussion of sex, a non-graphic sexual assault.