Title: The Book of Shade (Shadeborn #1)
Author: K. C. Finn
Genre: NA/urban fantasy
Date Read: 19/01/2016 – 23/01/2016
(Thank you to the author and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for a review)
This book ended up not being quite what I expected from the cover and the blurb, but I still ended up really enjoying it. I did expect something a bit darker and mysterious and quirky, with a bit more mystery, but what I ended up reading had enough redeeming features that I still felt it deserved a higher rating.
Lily Coltrane is beginning her first year at Piketon University and during Freshers week, joins the Illustrious Minds Literary Society, a group who attends the local Theatre Imaginique every month. The theatre’s headline act, Lemarick Novel, seems to be able to produce lightning from his fingers and levitate with no sign of wires. At first, Lily is unnerved that his eyes always seem to light on her, but it turns out it is with good reason. Lily has her own magical abilities, inherited from a father she never knew, and she is a Shade, just like Novel. Novel takes her on as an apprentice, but when news comes that Shadehunters are closing in on Piketon, Lily isn’t sure whether she or Novel will be able to protect each other, and the people closest to them.
From the way the blurb is worded, I expected that the mystery of who or what Novel was would take centre stage for most of the novel, and that he would probably end up being some form of antagonist. The cover also made me think that it would be darker read, but all the questions about Novel are answered within the first third of the book, which does essentially lower the curtain of mystique surrounding the Theatre Imaginique. When Lily is spending a huge amount of time there, training, it’s hard to maintain any mystery.
However, the plot that does emerge is still entertaining. We get to know the various performers really well, and the world-building surrounding shades and their magic, as well as why shadehunters exist, is all tightly plotted and woven through the narrative.
My favourite thing about this book, though, was the relationships between the characters. Particularly the fact that Lily had more than one love interest without it ever straying into love triangle territory. Sure, one of them is a bit of a dick when things don’t work out with her, but he’s a dick because he’s hurt, not because he’s an entitled prat (I would go as far as saying Lily leads him on a bit). I would have preferred that the main romance was a bit more slow-burn, but it wasn’t written badly so I was happy for it to happen the way it did. The other characters are also really well-written, from Lily’s roomie and best friend, Jazzy, to the other members of the Theatre.
There were some formatting issues; I’m not sure whether that’s due to the file I was sent, my Kindle being silly, or errors in the original formatting. Each chapter is preceded by a Playbill for the upcoming performance at the Theatre Imaginque. These were chopped in half every time when I was reading, so I had to flick back and forth between two pages to read it fully. There were also some cases of choppy sentences where one part of the sentence may have been rephrased but the rest wasn’t altered to suit it, things like that.
The next book gives us two shorter stories that provide back story for some of the major characters and then the third follows on with Lily’s story. I’m definitely going to grab these as well; I’m keen to see how this series pans out.