Its name is spoken only in whispers, if the people of Alban dare to speak it at all: Shadowfell. The training ground for rebels seeking to free their land from the grip of the tyrannical king is so shrouded in mystery that most believe it to be a myth.
But for Neryn, Shadowfell's existence is her only hope. She is penniless, orphaned, and utterly alone - and concealing a treacherous magical power that will warrant her immediate enslavement should it be revealed. She finds hope of allies in the Good Folk, fey beings whom she must pretend she cannot see and who taunt her with chatter of prophecies and tests, and in a striking, mysterious stranger, who saves her from certain death but whose motives remain unclear. She knows she should not trust anyone with her plans, but something within her longs to confide in him.
Will Neryn be forced to make the dangerous journey alone? She must reach Shadowfell, not only to avenge her family and salvage her own life, but to rescue Alban itself.
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Publication Date: 1st July, 2012
Publisher: Pan McMillian
Age Group: Young Adult / Adult
Genre: Epic Fantasy / Adventure / Historical Fantasy
Award-winning author, Juliet Marillier, best known for her Sevenwaters books will be releasing a new young adult novel in July.
Shadowfell is the first book in a trilogy following the adventures of fifteen year old Neryn, gifted with the ability to speak with the Good Folk in a time where such gifts are feared and destroyed.
She must travel to the mysterious Shadowfell where it is said a group of rebels are waiting for the right moment to over throw the cruel King of Alban.
What I Liked: Neryn had a level of mature resourcefulness that I have come to expect from Marillier, whether she is writing for teenagers or for adults. On her own after a life of hardship, Neryn knows better than to trust anyone but always, ultimately, listens to her heart. She is a dynamic character with more depth than most YA protagonists but she still maintains the level of innocence and confusion that something inside us recognises from our time as an adolescent, making her ideal for a YA fantasy heroine.
Other than Neryn, I also enjoyed any interactions with the Good Folk. Note: Do not going in expecting fairies - the Good Folk and fairies are different!
They possess similar qualities to Neryn, innocent wisdom, fear of the unknown and a steadfast, almost stubborn loyalty. I prefer Marillier's flexible interpretation of the Good folk - as both ageless, immortal beings and waif like children. I think it suits their mysterious nature.
The last think I'd like to applaud is Marillier's skill for telling tales within her tale.
Although it's not as obvious in Shadowfell as it has been in her adult novels, Marillier has a clear knowledge of what makes a story. Shadowfell presented us with a series of nursery rhymes and songs or through her interactions with fey characters like the Brollochan (a personal favourite of mine) and the Shadowman.
What I Didn't Like: One thing I have encountered in Marillier's work is that some parts of the story can drag. In Shadowfell it was Neryn's on again, off again, trust of Flint. I can understand the necessity of earning trust slowly and hate characters that fall together too quickly but it got a little frustrating that Neryn would change her mind just as she had made it up.
One think I'd really like to see more of in the sequel is Flint. He really started to shine at the end of the book and I wanted more of him.
Fortunately Raven Flight is undergoing editing and I'm hoping to get my paws on it sometime next year. In the mean time Marillier's adult series Sevenwaters has it's next instalment due out later this year and I look forward to reading Flame of Sevenwaters.
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