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My Need to Read

I love to explore genre fiction, and while I usually go for books with a romantic thread running through it, I just love great character and world building. And since I can hardly stand to let go of my favorite characters, I like series.

The Shadow Reader - Sandy Williams (Review first posted at Book Lovers Inc)First things first, and something that may interest many; the book is written in the first person present tense. Now, I’ve not read much in that particular narrative style, and I do tend to prefer the use of the past tense (in either first- or third-person voice), but it worked well in this case, disappearing behind the meat of the storytelling. (My personal affinity for this style is likely in no small part due to its wonderful use in Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax series. Perhaps it had broken the proverbial dam of my prejudice against 1st POV Present?) In any case, the device lent itself well to the uncertainty of the protagonist’s situation, and to the confusion of the action sequences (of which there were many).Now, a bit of context: McKenzie, a human trying to live as normal a life as possible, possesses the ability to “read” shadows of fae teleportation. The fae, whose own ability to jump between earth and their own parallel dimension equates to considerable power, either greatly appreciate or fear a power like McKenzie’s–after all, she can pinpoint where you’ve gone, allowing any fae to be followed if she’s witnessed the departure. It’s McKenzie’s ability to see the otherwise invisible fae and read their shadows that makes her the perfect ally and the worst kind of enemy.This book is all about perceptions and allegiances. It’s about how these views can differ vastly from one individual to the next, and how they can change with just the smallest bit of truth–or non-truth–introduced. It is what forms the cornerstone of the world building in the series; there is a building discord among the fae that threatens to bubble into civil war, and it’s all due to perceived notions that two major groups have of each other. It was exciting, that feeling of always questioning what’s unfolding on the page. The politics of the fae world are extremely intricate and sometimes elusive, and this story has provided enough of that intrigue and mystery to suggest that it’s the books to follow that will reveal the most crucial revelations.Along those lines, I really enjoyed the concept of a human being whose considerable abilities and long-held allegiances–and the assumed benevolence of both–are thrown into question when some additional perspective is given to her. Though the story is told through McKenzie’s eyes, there is so much unknown and unclear about her and her motives, building a great question mark that the protagonist herself has to untangle. It’s certainly fun watching McKenzie work through her considerable inner turmoil to figure out what she’s been doing for years, and why she’s been doing it.One element that I enjoyed immensely was the interaction between McKenzie and Aren (one of the rebels). Yep, theirs is part of a love triangle (cue groan of distaste if that’s not your bag ^_^)–the relationship between McKenzie and soldier Kyol is somewhat of a shadow itself, already established off-screen and in the distant past–McKenzie’s dealings with Aren are the diametric opposite, and they are the perfect exhibition of how prejudices can be formed, maintained, or broken with small actions and gestures. The sniping, the scuffles, the slowly developing connection…this is where the really interesting emotional drama and tension unfolds.I thought it spoke well to this book that, even after checking the ending just now (which I NEVER do) I was still on pins and needles reading the chapters leading up to the conclusion. The action scenes in general are high-octane, but it’s due to the constant thread of uncertainty that I found myself unsure of…well, anything. I. Love. That. Feeling. ^_^ It formed the very fabric of great drama. And I most certainly cannot wait to delve further into the Shadow Reader world in the next book, The Shattered Dark, out near the end of of 2012.