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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Review: Shadowfell (Shadowfell #1) by Juliet Marillier

Publisher: Random House
Published: September 11, 2012
Pages: 416
Source: For Review from Random House/NetGalley
Rating: 4 Stars


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.

In short: Shadowfell showcases Juliet Marillier's talent at crafting beautiful fantasies with her lovely storytelling and writing.
Finally, after hearing people gush about her novels for so long, I have read my first novel by much loved fantasy author Juliet Marillier. And it was an experience I would definitely like to repeat. Shadowfell tells the story of orphan Neryn and her journey across Alban with the help of the Good Folk. I tend to dislike faeries such as they often appear in YA paranormal novels - sort of snobbish and frigid - but the fairy people in Shadowfell were whimsical and delightful little guys, which made the reading experience so much more pleasant for me.

Neryn isn't the type of sword-wielding, tough-as-nails heroine that seem to be so prevalent in high fantasy fiction these days. But what she lacks in fighting skills, she makes up for in pure and true virtue. Some readers may view her character as weak because she lacks the obvious shows of strength, but it's the subtleties of her personality - her loving and kindhearted nature and her courage and mettle in trying situations - that demonstrate the fortitude of her character. I loved seeing Neryn grow and come into her own over the course of the book - it warmed my heart.

If I could name one fault with Shadowfell, it would be the bouts of slow pacing where I found my attention waning, but overall, Shadowfell was simply a lovely read. I totally get why Juliet Marillier is such a big deal. Her writing was beautiful and lyrical and her world building was excellently crafted. The romance was nice, as well - a gradual and sweet relationship - though pretty minimal. I definitely recommend Shadowfell to fans of fantasy reads. I will absolutely be continuing on with this series, especially due to the exciting prospect where Shadowfell leaves off.

Other Reviews:
Musings of a YA Reader
Pure Imagination
Tynga's Reviews

Author Links:
Website
Goodreads

26 comments :

  1. Yay, I'm glad you liked this one too, Aylee. I tend to dislike fairies for the same reason as you - they're usually depicted as cold and manipulative - but the ones in here sounded cute and are portrayed in the way olden day people believed. I prefer my fantasies fast-paced with a sword-wielding heroine but I still liked Neryn. It's awesome when a girl understands her responsibilities and doesn't ditch everything to be with a guy.

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    1. Yup, that's what I liked about them! They were just plain cuter and more trustworthy. I guess they weren't fae per se, not like how we see them in other books. And that is exactly what I liked about Neryn! Sure, I would've liked her even more if there was some more action for her to kick butt in, but the important thing was that she had moral fibre.

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  2. I'm not surprised you mentioned the slow pace lol. I still want to read this in spite that. I knew this was fantasy but I didn't know it was fae. Thanks for the review, Aylee! I'm excited to read about Marillier's beautiful and lyrical writing. ;)

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    1. Because other reviews mention the slow pace or because slow pacing is typical of a Juliet Marillier book? They're not quite fae, I guess,but fae-like. Hope you love it, Chel!

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  3. Thanks for the great review Aylee :) ! I've actually never read anything by this author but now I look forward to :)

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  4. I've been seeing this book around a lot lately Aylee, I clearly need to get on the Shadowfell train! I like that she doesn't have an obvious show of strength, sometimes the subtle nuances to a character's personality are the most interesting aspects. Looking forward to reading this one!

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    1. Yeah, I guess it's because it was just released and lots of people are fans of the author. And it definitely made for a more intriguing character! And more relatable, I think.

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  5. Like the commentator above me, I've been seeing this book around! I think this should be my first novel by her too, it sounds wonderful. I love that Neryn is such a subtle character and the writing sounds like a big plus to me. Fantastic review, Aylee!

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    1. I had been seeing the author's work around on various blogs for a long time and I finally decided like I needed to take the plunge and read something of hers. I was not disappointed! Now by her writing and characterization, anyway.

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  6. I don't think i've heard of this author. to be honest, I'm not a HUGE fantasy fan but I'm really glad this one worked for you. And yay for faeries you can root for!

    -lauren

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    1. I understand. The genre certainly isn't for everyone. And I would recommend this one to fans of fantasy only.

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  7. I was wondering how this would be! Sounds great. Love fantasy. Nice review :)

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  8. Having read a few of her books - and loved them for the most part - I do agree that her books kind of tend to lose my attention at one point, just a little, I think because she likes to construct his complex settings and characters and the build up sometimes goes on for quite a bit.

    Other than that I really love her writing and I'm glad you enjoyed your first experience with it.

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    1. Hmm, that's good to know. I didn't find that this one got a little boring, though I'm not sure that I would always find that to be the case with her books. I actually don't mind reading about the set-up of complex settings and characters if it means they will be well done! I'm very curious to read other works from her now.

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  9. This sounds like it has a lot going for it. I have seen the cover around quite a bit but I have never thought to pick it up. I don't read a lot of fantasy books but I have read the Songs of Magic series by JL Bryan and I really loved the way he portrayed fairies as well! I think this one may fit into the exception category from what I read here. Great review Aylee!

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    1. Hmm, never read that series myself, butI am intrigued with how he portrayed faeries because the vast majority of the time, I kind of hate them. So that you would enjoy it, even though it was a fantasy, is encouraging!

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  10. This sounds like a great read -- and such a beautiful cover!

    Too bad there were some slow sections, but beautiful writing can definitely make up for that. :)

    Thanks for sharing, Aylee!

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    1. Oh, for sure. I am perfectly happy to just relax among the beautiful prose if the pacing is slow!

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  11. I'm glad you enjoyed this one.

    I'm in the middle of it now and, while I agree the writing is well done, I'm finding it incredibly depressing. I just want something good to happen! When I think it does, then it all goes to crap again in the next chapter. I'm trying to stay optimistic and get through it though. Does it get any more cheerful?

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    1. You're right, it was a tad on the depressing side. I mean, poor Neryn! She does go through a lot. It does get a bit happier and hopeful when you see her team up with the Good Folk and see them support her. Flint, too. The ending was very sweet, if not entirely happy, as well.

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  12. Neryn sounds like a nice heroine...love the sound of the writing too. I adore fantasy novels, so I'm definitely going to have to check this book out.

    Fabulous review, Aylee!

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    1. Yup, I definitely recommend it then if you want a fantasy with beautiful prose and a great heroine!

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  13. I actually like the sound of our Neryn as a protagonist. And I am interested in a good fairy novel. I may or may not get to this one. Fantasy is scary for me. I sometimes find it incredibly boring, so we'll see.

    Thanks for the review.

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    1. I hear the fantasy is boring comment from time to time and it always confuses me. It's weird, but I guess because I have an interest in it, I never find it boring! I wouldn't put it on the top of your tbr list or anything if fantasy isn't your thing.

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