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.
Shadowfell was my first experience reading a book by Juliet Marillier. I was starting to feel left out since she is so very popular in the fantasy genre and I adore a good epic fantasy. I liked Shadowfell from the very first page. Lots of mystery and intrigue is introduced very early on and it captivated me quickly.
The world in which Shadowfell takes place is quite remarkable. The country is ruled by a tyrant king who has banned all magic. If you are known to have any sort of canny abilities it means death or having your mind wiped clean. Neryn can see the Good Folk and that puts her in great danger. I really enjoyed the world. It’s been a while since I read a book with Good Folk, or fairies in it. There was lots of lore and myths that added fascinating elements.
Neryn has a pretty rough go of it from the very start of the book. She’s actually had a pretty bad couple of years. In Shadowfell she’s lost just about everything and her only hope is to travel to a rumored safe haven. I liked Neryn for the most part. She was so beaten down but strong. It was easy to root for her. Although, Flint was my absolute favorite part of the story. He really captured all my focus. If he wasn’t in the scene I was thinking about how I wanted him to be. I pretty much loved him for the start. He was your regular brooding mysterious male character, but you could see just how sad and tender he was even if Neryn couldn’t. That made me fall head over heels for him.
That brings me to my one complaint, Neyn’s distrust of Flint grew very tiresome for me in the last 100 pages of so. She just kept being dense and doing things that I didn’t want her to do. I know, I know, what I want has nothing to do with it, but I got a little frustrated. I was also a little irked by her qualms about doing what she needed to do. These are all fairly minor complaints. Getting frustrated at a character just means I was really invested in the story, right?
I really enjoyed reading Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier. The world and the characters were very captivating and I’m already anxiously awaiting the sequel.