Reign of Shadows (Reign of Shadows, #1) by Sophie Jordan
Published by HarperTeen on February 9, 2016
Genres: young adult, fantasy, romance, retellings
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When it comes to this book, I’m pretty sure I’m the black sheep. I’ve seen a DNF review, a one-star review, and a two-star review from people whose reviews I trust. But I think this is one of those strange cases where I’m in the minority.
Because I really liked this, you guys. As in, I almost read the entire thing in one day. Reign of Shadows completely enveloped me, and I really enjoyed the ride.
This was probably my favorite aspect of the novel. The dark has always fascinated me, ever since I was a little girl. And that’s probably why this novel’s premise appealed to me: a Rapunzel retelling set in a kingdom shadowed by constant night. And the world-building didn’t disappoint.
I was fascinated by all of it: the dwellers, the atmosphere of the forest, the ways cities and individuals adapted to survive, the bat sickness, even what little we heard about the political state of Relhok. I’ve never really seen a fantasy world quite like this. It was all so unique, and yet just the right balance of old and new (kind of like in Finnikin of the Rock). The world here was dark and intriguing, and I kept wishing we got more of it, because I loved it.
I was worried I wouldn’t be able to keep track of two narrators, but that wasn’t much of a problem for me. Luna and Fowler are both solid, strong, determined characters in their own right, and I enjoyed reading about them.They were easy to relate and get attached to, and I found myself cheering them on and worrying about them whenever they ran into danger. I can’t wait to connect with them even more in the second book. 🙂
Also, can we talk about how competent Luna is, despite her disability? Luna is a great example of how you can be a strong and competent person despite any physical/mental hindrances. I admire her stubbornness and her bravery, despite the challenges she faces with said disability; it’s something worth applauding. I don’t think I’d be able to function nearly as well as she’s able to.
I didn’t like Fowler as much as I liked Luna, but I liked him well enough. He’s just as strong and stubborn as she is, but I liked how that didn’t necessarily mean he was all macho; he had his own insecurities and vulnerabilities, and I enjoyed that.
Another thing I didn’t necessarily expect was to get so attached to Sivo and Perla, Luna’s “guardians” in her tower. I really liked them.
There is action and just a touch of suspense. However, most of the plot is character- and romance-driven, so, a fair warning to all my friends who aren’t interested in reading a romantic fantasy, if you’re looking for something that focuses on other aspects, don’t look here. I, for one, enjoyed it, though. I felt there was a great balance of action and character development.
This is the one area that prevents me from rating this a solid 4.5 stars, and that’s mainly because of its pacing. Like These Broken Stars, this novel contains a slow-burn romance, and, like These Broken Stars, it’s really well-done…up to a certain point. Because once they finally admit their feelings for each other, there were a few cheesy lines where I was kind of like, Really?
However, this is what bothered me the most: the time frame of the relationship. How long have they known each other, really? A month? Maybe two or three? ((SPOILER)) I would have liked them to have waited a little longer before they got as intimate as they did; the build-up seemed unrealistically fast, to me. They went from A to B, and then B to Z in terms of physical intimacy not very long after this point, which bothers me.
(On a mini-tangent note: Why do characters have to sleep with someone right after they reveal their feelings to each other? I think, given the right circumstances, perhaps that could happen in real life, and I get that this is fantasy, but I don’t think it’s realistic at all.) ((END SPOILERS))
Overall, though, I still really enjoyed Fowler and Luna’s relationship. They both balance each other out really well, and they try hard to protect each other, even if what they decide to do in order to keep the other person safe isn’t necessarily the best decision to make. Yet, despite their sometimes-conflicting interests and desires, neither one of them sabotages the other to get what they want; instead they just let each other do their thing, and I liked that a lot.
If you like a heavy helping of romance in your fantasy and you’d like to see some fascinating, solid world-building, I’d recommend you check this one out. In the meantime, I’ll be in my little corner of the pen, baa-ing and waiting eagerly for 2017.