Friday, January 3, 2014

Review: Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

Title: Shadowfell
Author: Juliet Marillier
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Source: PanMacmillan Australia. Thank you!

Goodreads rating: 3.97 out of 5.00 (3,900+ ratings)
Goodreads | The Reading Room

The people of Alban are afraid.

The tyrannical king and his masked Enforcers are scouring the land, burning villages and enslaving the canny.

Fifteen-year-old Neryn has fled her home in the wake of its destruction, and is alone and penniless, hiding her extraordinary magical power. She can rely on no one – not even the elusive Good Folk who challenge and bewilder her with their words.

When an enigmatic stranger saves her life, Neryn and the young man called Flint begin an uneasy journey together. She wants to trust Flint but how can she tell who is true in this land of evil?

For Neryn has heard whisper of a mysterious place far away: a place where rebels are amassing to free the land and end the King's reign.

A place called Shadowfell.

A story of courage, hope, danger and love from one of the most compelling fantasy storytellers.

Review by Nara

One thing I can definitely say about Juliet Marillier is that her writing is stunning. There's a nice flow to her words that make them easy to read- almost a lyrical tone, rather like reading a fairytale. While there were a lot of new terms introduced (sometimes it was hard to keep track of the different creatures and things), I think overall, Marillier manages to create a very compelling high fantasy world.

However, I do have to say that some of the dialogue was a bit difficult to interpret. There are a couple of characters that have accents (they kind of read like Scottish accents) and it's almost impossible to work out what they're saying in some parts. Still, I guess it added to the characterisation and world building, so I'm not totally against it.
I learned that fear turned friend into foe in an instant, and I learned to keep secrets.
From the start, you're (or at least I was) very curious to find out what the "extraordinary magical power" referred to in the blurb is. And in the first couple of chapters, there are hints of what it is. Man, every time a hint came up I was like JUST TELL ME DAMMIT. When the power actually is revealed (which is pretty early on, maybe chapter five or six), at first I was a bit disappointed that it wasn't something more awesome (like controlling fire or something haha)- but then I really thought about what the power meant, and how it could be utilised. And I realised that it's a very interesting power indeed. I definitely look forward to how it's going to be used in sequels.

For some reason, I kind of like it when love interests don't look flawless. The first thing we see Neryn notes about Flint is that his face is "not a handsome face". Flint is a rather mysterious and fascinating character- to trust him or not to trust can find out for yourself, I suppose.

The pace is a bit slow. There's this section in the middle which feels like walking through a swamp, it's so slow. So I do have to admit that I was bored at times- and this is probably the main reason why I'm giving Shadowfell four stars rather than five. It just felt like the plot was dragging along- basically the entire story was Neryn walking around and encountering various creatures. And just when things start getting really interesting, the book ends! Well, at least I have a copy of the sequel ready.

Liked it
Overall: 8/10
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 3/5


  1. I do so love high fantasy so this book definitely interests me! :D I think I'll keep my eyes out for it. Great review, Nara!

    1. It's pretty good! I'm definitely looking forward to reading the sequels :D

  2. Your review made me laugh, because I do the same thing with books. I start yelling at the book when I want to know something. Later, when I find out what the thing is I am usually like "oh? is that all?"

    1. haha yeah you talk it up in your head and then when you actually find out it's so anticlimactic :P

  3. I thought I was the only one who yells at books! LOL! I'm not much fan of high fantasy books, but this one seems like a good one to read.Awesome review, Nara!

    1. haha I actually do the yelling in my head, but sometimes I say things like "freaking hell" and "oh my god" and stuff out loud hehe
      It probably wouldn't be the first book I'd recommend in the genre, but it's not a bad read :)

  4. Haha that's one of the downfalls about high fantasy, it's really about the world building so it really does tend to get extremely tedious to read in the middle of the book! But I'm so glad you enjoyed the novel overall, it sounds intriguing (although the blurb sounds like any other fantasy novel) so I'll keep this at the back of my mind for later! Thanks for an honest and awesome review! xx

    1. I LOVE world building though, so high fantasy and science fiction are my favourite genres :D The slow pace in this one wasn't really because of world building though, strangely. It was just that nothing much happened lol

  5. I'm so glad you took the time to read this, Nara! :) I know a lot of people find high fantasy tough to read, because it tends to load with world-building, but that's what I love most!
    I really loved Flint too! :D He was initially hard and a tad cold, but I love it that he has a soft heart and that he sought to really protect Neryn :)
    Great review, Nara!! <33

    1. ME TOO! I freaking love the world building part of high fantasy! It's the best :D
      I'm definitely interested to see how Flint evolves as a character in the second and third books!