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Shadowfell (Book 1 of the Shadowfell Series) by Juliet Marillier: A Book Review

Shadowfell (Book 1 of the Shadowfell Series)
Author: Juliet Marillier
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Publisher: Alfred K. Knopf
Release Date: 2012
Pages: 416
Source: Personal Collection
Synopsis: It's name is spoken only in whispers, if the people of Alban dare to speak it at all: Shadowfell. The training ground for Rebels seeking to free their land from the grip of the tyrannical king is so shrouded in mystery that most people it to be a myth.

     But for Neryn, Shadowfell's existence is her only hope. She is penniless, orphaned, and utterly alone--and concealing a treacherous magical power that will warrant her immediate enslavement should it be revealed. She finds hope of allies in the Good Folk, fey beings whom she must pretend she cannot see and who taunt her with chatter of prophecies and tests, and in  a striking, mysterious stranger, who saves her from certain death but whose motives remain unclear. She knows she should not trust anyone with her plans, but something within her longs to confide in him.


     Will Neryn be forced to make the dangerous journey alone? She must reach Shadowfell, not only to avenge her family and salvage her own life, but to rescue Alban itself.


     This first novel in a new trilogy from enchanting fantasy author Juliet Marillier is a captivating tale of peril, courage, romance, and survival.


      My Review: In the initial novel of the Shadowfell series, Marillier introduces us to a series of interesting characters, including the heroine, Neryn. Neryn is a teenage fugitive on the run with her father from the evil King Keldec's enforcers. After all, in King Keldec's land, having uncanny, or magical abilities can mean death, or a mind bend, leaving one a shell of a human being. Neryn is possessed of an ability, but how great or how small is it? After being gambled away by her father in a game of chance and then almost immediately orphaned, Neryn finds herself owned by mysterious young man named Flint. Flint seems to know Neryn is more than she seems, and also suspects that the only place left for her to safety is the hidden realm of Shadowfell, where people with uncanny abilities can live in relative peace. At least until King Keldec's enforcers find them, but can they?

      Marillier introduces us to several interesting and mysterious characters in Shadowfell, many who are more than what they appear on the surface. Neryn is obviously a special girl, but just what are her powers, and how can she learn to use them properly? Flint is faced with a myriad of difficult decisions and moral choices. Just who is he, and will he betray Neryn to the enforcers? Other magical creatures are introduced, and they are fascinating characters that will obviously play a larger role in the later books. They are personable, and help Neryn discover with her quest.

      Marillier’s magical world is a bit complex. The weather seems to be mostly cold and dark. It is a symbol for how grim Alban is under tyranny. While much of the setting is left largely to the readers imagination, her descriptions of the northern section where Shadowfell lies is written in great detail. Most of Marillier’s details of the land Alban involve the people Neryn encounters. No one trusts each other, and Neryn has to learn who to trust and who not to trust.

      Overall, this book is a fabulous start to the series. I look forward to reading the next installment in Neryn’s adventures. The only drawback from this book occasionally is that there are sections where magical creatures talk in old English, and it slows the pace of the reading down trying to decipher what they are saying. I would recommend Shadowfell to Lord of the Rings fans, fans Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, and fantasy lovers.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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