Sunday, September 9, 2012
Shadowfell is the story of Neryn, a girl with the unusual canny ability to see faeries. Neryn has spent years running for the King's Enforcers, a group of soliders sent out to destroy any hints of magic. Her grandmother, who also had a canny gift, was greviously injured and later died because of the annual Cull. Her brother died fighting for freedom. All that's left of Neryn's family is her father. Once a good man, he's no longer much of a father, turning to drinking and gambling to deal with his loss.
When her father loses Neryn in a gambling match, a mysterious stranger saves Neryn from the other gamblers and the King's forces. He wants to offer her a choice, but she flees before he has the chance to explain. Neryn heads north, towards Shadowfell, a place she's never been. At Shadowfell, people with canny magical abilities can be safe. At least that's what Neryn's heard. She has no idea if Shadowfell even exists.
The journey takes Neryn across the countryside, where she encounters the Good Folk nearly everywhere. They tell her that she might have a destiny if she can prove herself in a series of tests. As a reader, the tests are a bit tedious because it's obvious fromt he beginning that she's going to pass them all. Books with journey quests are always the same. The main character encounters all the tests and pass them, usually struggling with at least one.
As for the romance in this book, I'm torn about how I feel. I saw it coming from a million miles away. There was no surprise or twists. It had a lot of tropes that bother me, such as "You'll hate me if you know what I am," that I feel like I've seen a lot, particularly in paranormal YA, as well as the main character claiming that nothing is going on when something is clearly going on. But at the same time, the romance did develop slowly and by then end I was happy they were finally acknowledging it. Partially because at least the characters would finally stop denying it, but also because the romantic lead gradually grew on me.
Now that I'm writing this I'm realizing predictability was the biggest flaw in this novel. Yes there were obstacles, but I always knew the main character would overcome them. I was never surprised by what happened or by a characters behavior. The book and the characters behaved exactly as expected throughout the whole book.
However, I will still say I enjoyed this novel and will probably read the next in the series. I'm a sucker for Marillier's use of mythology, her fantasy worlds rely heavily on Irish folklore, and I love that. I just know that Marillier can write better books because I've read them. There is nothing horrible or bad about this book, just the sense that I always knew what was coming and could've read the beginning and skipped straight to the ending and it wouldn't have really mattered.