About Shadow Magic
Thorn, an outlaw’s son, wasn’t supposed to be a slave. He’s been sold to Tyburn, an executioner, and they’re headed to Castle Gloom in Gehenna, the land of undead, where Thorn will probably be fed to a vampire.
Lilith Shadow wasn’t supposed to be ruler of Gehenna. But following the murder of her family, young Lily became the last surviving member of House Shadow, a long line of dark sorcerers. Her country is surrounded by enemies and the only way she can save it is by embracing her heritage and practicing the magic of the undead. But how can she when, as a girl, magic is forbidden to her?
Just when it looks like Lily will have to leave her home forever, Thorn arrives at Castle Gloom. A sudden death brings them together, inspires them to break the rules, and leads them to soar to new heights in this fantasy with all the sparkle and luster of a starry night sky.
I picked this book up largely because I read the second in the series earlier this year and really enjoyed how unusual and clever it was. So I liked this first book, too, but I think I expected more to happen? I mean, a lot happens, but it’s all things that the second book references, so I guess I kind of had all the spoilers before I started reading.
Nevertheless, I found it to be a fun read. I loved getting to see how Thorn and Lily become friends and Thorn’s relationship with Hades, the giant bat, and even his complex relationship with Tyburn, the executioner.
It’s a bit darker than my usual middle grade read, with zombies being raised from the dead and ghosts and poison and things like that. I liked that each kingdom has some specific form of magic, and that each one had its own distinct cultural vibe.
There’s also some interesting emphasis on women’s rights. As Lily discovers her magic, she’s warned that if anyone finds out she can do magic, she’ll be burned as a witch. It’s culturally acceptable for men (and even expected in male rulers) to have magical ability. But a woman with magic is seen as untrustworthy and too temperamental to handle it. Lily chooses to keep her magic secret, but it’s clear she and her friends believe women should not be treated this way.
Each kingdom has kind of a specific cultural vibe. The most prominent in the story is a kingdom whose magic is fire, and has a strongly Middle Eastern feel to it.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
One brief kiss.
Lily’s kingdom is known as a kingdom of undead. Her family’s powers include necromancy—summoning ghosts and raising people from the dead as zombies.
Battle scenes between soldiers and zombies under the command of a masked sorcerer. Someone attempts to poison Lily but winds up killing her dog instead. A girl is pushed into the moat to her death. Lily and Thorn both face moments of peril. There are some vivid descriptions of Hades the giant bat eating other animals, like sheep.