This book is curtsey of NetGalley.com and Random House Children's Books. I was lucky enough to receive this book a little while ago, and I have to say as soon as I started it I couldn’t put it down. I'm slowly but surely putting a dent in my reading list, I'm the little reader that can.
Now Shadowfell summary curtsey of goodreads.com:
Sixteen-year-old Neryn is alone in the land of Alban, where the oppressive king has ordered anyone with magical strength 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 received 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.
Sounds pretty amazing right? Well yes it's a completely different world of Alban which is magical and dangerous. People are not allowed to trust or even really enjoy any moment knowing that anything they do could be seen as unusual and in turn be sent to the evil King. It's a horribly dark tale and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Now don't worry it's not a dark depressing tale by any means. It is dark but the point of the story is that there is hope. Out main character Neryn, whom I adore as a strong heroine, has been through so much in her short life, things that would knock down stronger people but still she keeps moving forward. She keeps hope that she will find that peace she was once told about. That to me is a much more vivid representation of what most of us go through every day when we have things to make it through, be it a long shift at work or just some dreadful task before you, always look to the end and the peace to be found. I know I kept thinking pretty profound thoughts as I read this book. If Neryn can keep going through all of this, I can make it through 8 hours of annoying people at work, okay so maybe not that profound.
Marillier creates a vivid world for sure, but that world would be empty without equally detailed characters to fill it. Now we have our main character Neryn who is on this journey. She is young but she has not grown up in a happy place, all she has known was the horrible place of Alban which over the years has gotten darker and darker, still she holds on to hope. She is scared for herself and those around her. She is a wonderful character full of flaws and even when she was being stubborn and I wanted to strangle her for doing something I clearly knew was a bad idea (being a reader and not in the situation of course why don't characters know what we know), she was real. She has to figure things out each and every day, try to learn to trust these new allies of hers when she's been on her own for so long.
Now onto these allies for which I spoke. There are a bunch of 'Good Folk' like Sage, Red Cap, Silver, and countless others for whom I am not going to even try to remember or spell. They are all described so beautifully its amazing. They each have different personalities which was fun to read. Then more importantly, to me anyways, is Flint. The mysterious man who saves her life but his motives seem unclear. Even after he explains what little he can to her she is suspicious. Can you really trust someone who you really know nothing about? And what happens when you find out what/who they are? He was beautifully written. Strong, silent, mysterious, and haunted he is a man who invades your every thought trying to unravel.
Neryn has a special gift that is rare. One that could be a great power to the war on either side. Her ability to communicate and see the Good Folk even when they are hiding is strange enough to her but when she learns the deeper meaning of her gift she figures out just how perilous it really is. Can she learn to use her gift and fight the good fight or will she be used as a weapon to squash out what little hope there is in Alban?
This is only the first book in a series, of course if I'm reading it then it should be known the chances of it being a single book are 1 in a 100, so we have to wait for more. Can Neryn learn to use her gift to help turn the tides in the war and bring the much awaited peace to Alban? We shall have to find out. This book came out September 11th. If you're ready to be swept away into another world check it out.