Review: Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

Sunday, October 14, 2012 10:15 AM
Title: Shadowfell 
Author: Juliet Marillier
Published: September 11, 2012
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Series: Shadowfell #1
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Pages: 410
Source: Purchased
Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“She went on because there was no going back.”
― Juliet Marillier, Shadowfell

Synopsis
Sixteen-year-old Neryn is alone in the land of Alban, where the oppressive king has ordered anyone with magical strengths captured and brought before him. Eager to hide her own canny skill—a uniquely powerful ability to communicate with the fairy-like Good Folk—Neryn sets out for the legendary Shadowfell, a home and training ground for a secret rebel group determined to overthrow the evil King Keldec.

During her dangerous journey, she receives aid from the Good Folk, who tell her she must pass a series of tests in order to recognize her full potential. She also finds help from a handsome young man, Flint, who rescues her from certain death—but whose motives in doing so remain unclear. Neryn struggles to trust her only allies. They both hint that she alone may be the key to Alban’s release from Keldec’s rule.

Homeless, unsure of who to trust, and trapped in an empire determined to crush her, Neryn must make it to Shadowfell not only to save herself, but to save Alban. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
Shadowfell was fantasy at its finest. It's been far too long since I've read such a wonderful fantasy. I have yet to read any of Juliet Marillier's other books, but now I really want to read the Sevenwaters series (especially since I've heard such positive things). Shadowfell was written beautifully, and I savored every word. I fell in love with the land of Alban, despite all of the hardships the people endure in such dark times. I loved the names of the landmarks and bodies of water, from the mountains called the Three Hags to the town called Corbie's Wood. For me, it was reminiscent of Tolkien's Middle Earth.

As for the world building, I had no complaints. I felt as if I was walking in Alban along with Neryn. We're given such a complete, vivid picture of the dire straits people are in. Almost everyone in Alban is distrustful and suspicious of others. They would turn someone into the Cull, a murderous army of the king's enforcers sent on a rampage each fall, for a mere reward. The Good Folk are forced into hiding, along with those who have magical gifts they've inherited from a fairy and human union sometime in their family's past. Only the king's inner circle is allowed to practice magic, and the king uses his Enthrallers, or mind-scrapers, to turn rebels into obedient thralls. The suffering and darkness of King Keldec's rule is evident, but there is also some good left in this world. Along Neryn's journey, she finds people who she can trust and who help her along the way. Most importantly, the Good Folk are a constant presence and she finds friends where she least expects them.

I loved the fairies in Shadowfell because they weren't the usual gorgeous fey. They were of all shapes and sizes, and one was vastly different from the other. Some had feathers or beaks, and others looked like a bush creature. There were huge fairies that reminded me of trolls guarding a bridge, and then there were fey who were rock creatures. It was so refreshingly new, and I was happy that the fey were mysterious, creepy little creatures hiding everywhere rather than unnaturally beautiful beings.

The character development in Shadowfell left nothing to be desired. Neryn was a lovely heroine, and I found her to be such a strong character. Yet she has such a dark past, and it takes her some time to forgive and move on. I thought her hesitation in trusting anyone was believable after everything she's been through, especially since Alban is far from a peaceful land. There's little romance, but the little there is is so touching, and I can't wait to see it develop more in later books. Flint is far from the usual romantic interest, but I loved him. This romance doesn't need the usual banter or flirtation. It is simply two people, who have lived through some hard times, slowly starting to trust each other. It's a struggle for these two, but everything is in this land. I wouldn't have bought their romance if they had immediately trusted each other and showed interest from the start.

I'm excited for the sequel and cannot wait to read it! I have no idea when it will be released, and I wish it was now! If you are a fantasy lover, I definitely recommend Shadowfell. But if you're aren't into books that focus mainly on a character's journey across a world, as I am, then you may not love it like I did. All I know is that it's definitely one of my new favorites!


15 comments:

  1. I struggled with the middle of this book as it slowed down so much. But I too loved the characters and liked that the fae where not typical. Great review!

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    1. Thanks Ali! I can see that. I think for some, the details of neryn's journey might be boring, but I didn't mind at all. I guess it depends.

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  2. It seems this is really well-rounded, with great writing and character development. Glad you finally found a satisfying fantasy! ;) Brilliant review, Courtney. :)

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    1. Thanks!!!!!!! You should definitely check it out! :D

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  3. I love Juliet Marillier's books!! You should try the Wildwood Dancing series! And Heart's Blood. Those two were my favourite. I really like the Sevenwater's series as well, I thought I had read all of the books but only discovered that other day I had only read three of them lol. I'm not sure how I missed that :/

    I can't wait to read this book, so I'm glad I'm finding some really positive reviews of it as well!

    I just turned 6 months old, check out my giveaway if you want! :)

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    1. Congratulations on turning 6 months old! :D lol And I know! I need to read more of her books ASAP! I have been missing out. She seems like a awesome writer.

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  4. Gosh, i just really love that title! It sounds so mysterious! I love fantasy books the best so I will definitely check this out! (And though I risk sounding like a broken record... If haven't read Eon yet, I definitely recommend it! It's AMAZING fantasy <3 Little romance in the first book!)

    Wonderful review, Courtney :D

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    1. I actually have Eon, but I have yet to get to it. Don't worry. I will be able to soon, and I'm excited! You can always read about more dragons! :D Thanks Gellie!

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  5. Shadowfell is definitely on my TBR list. But I need to reread the Sevenwaters saga first. And you need to as well! I have other Juliet Marillier book recs for you as well (including one "Beauty and the Beast"-inspired story which was also very good). I have heard good things about Shadowfell, but I've also heard that her Sevenwaters books are better and the heroines even stronger. Regardless, I am very glad you enjoyed your first taste of Marillier. :)

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    1. Yes, I'll definitely be reading more of her books in the future. I was impressed! And what is Beauty and the Beast inspired story?

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    2. Heart's Blood. Read it for thesis research. It was awesome haha.

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  6. Sounds excellent. I like the striking cover.

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  7. This was my first Juliet Marillier book, too, and I pretty much agree with everything you said! I COMPLETELY agree about what you had to say about the fey people. I tend to dislike fey as they are normally portrayed in books - sort of snobby and frigid - but the fairy people in Shadowfell were delightful and whimsical little guys and I loved that. Also really enjoyed the world building, Neryn, and the romance! I am excited to see where the sequel will go for sure! And I'm definitely going to have to check out Juliet Marillier's other books because as you say, they are very beloved. Really excellent review, Courtney!!

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    1. Yes, I am so excited to read her other books! I hope they are just as good!

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