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About Shadow and Thorn
An exiled king.
An elusive thief.
And the treasure they would give their lives to possess…
Alexei is returning to his homeland after more than twenty years in hiding. His kingdom is destroyed, his people dead or enslaved. His only hope to provide sanctuary for those few who remain is the uncertain word of a traitor, a broken man who claims to know the hiding place of Erath’s greatest treasure. To find it, Alexei will have to return to the place where Erath fell, and brave the shadowed halls of a castle that echoes with the ghosts of his past.
Zara is a woman without a future—a treasure hunter, and a thief who hates to steal. Trapped by fate in an abandoned castle, she encounters a destiny she could never have predicted, and uncovers a treasure far greater than she ever imagined.
When their paths collide, Alexei and Zara may both have a chance to atone for past mistakes… unless they kill each other first. Brought together by enemies both expected and unexpected, they will plumb the depths of an unimaginable betrayal and forge the foundations of a love they would risk anything to keep.
Confession: The characters’ ages make this technically adult fiction, which I almost never review here. I’m making an exception for two (kind of flimsy) reasons. One is that I LOVE this series, and the other is that earlier books fit the young adult genre a lot better, so YA readers who’ve been along for the earlier books may want to know what I have to say about this one.
The only hiccup for me was the opening scene. I was kind of confused by what was happening and I wasn’t sure if I should be able to place it with something from a previous book. Once I got a few chapters in, I realized exactly what was happening in that opening scene, and I appreciated it a lot more.
I remembered Alexei from the third book in the series, and I definitely remember thinking I wanted to know more about him. So finding him at the center of this book was really exciting. I also liked Zara a LOT. She’s spunky and good, which you don’t often see paired together. I was a fan from the moment she walked on scene.
Shadow and Thorn is a re-imagining of the story of Beauty and the Beast, but it’s possibly the most clever re-imagining of that story I’ve ever read (and I do NOT say that lightly because Robin McKinley’s Beauty is easily in my top twenty-five favorite books ever.) because while it retells the story in a different way, it also becomes an origin story. I know that’s vague. I don’t want to give too much away, but there were so many moments as I read the story where things suddenly clicked and I was like, OHHHHHHH! I see what’s happening here! And that made reading it so much fun.
I also liked that Alexei has a team of allies–sort of the way the Beast has his servants in the castle who are loyal and often see things he doesn’t. It rounded out the cast of characters really nicely. The castle appears as a character, too, and I thought that was really imaginatively done. She is ancient and inhuman, and it definitely came across in her actions and desires and added some real complexity to the tale.
I feel like fans of Leah Cypess need to read the Andari books. Seriously. Something about this story reminded me of her debut, Mistwood. If you’re a fan of fairy tales re-imagined, you need to put this series at the top of your reading list. Kenley Davidson has published four books so far, and I’ve loved every one of them. If you’ve never heard of the Andari Chronicles before, check out my review of the first book, Traitor’s Masque here .
The Andari Chronicles feel rich with varied cultures. This story focuses mostly on one culture, which had previously been enslaved because of their magical abilities.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used infrequently.
Brief kissing between a boy and girl.
Magical abilities allow some people to do amazing things—manipulate crystals, predict the future, heal others, or control them.
Magical ability can also be used to form an unbreakable bond with someone. When someone shares a bond with someone else, they must stay near each other or risk death if they become too distanced from one another. Also, if one member of the bond dies, the other will follow.
Brief battles. Some soldiers become wounded.