Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan
Book One of the Reign of Shadows series
Publication Date: February 9, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss
Summary (from Goodreads):
Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.
But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.
With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.
What I Liked:
If this book were a standalone, it would get three stars - a whole star knocked off because of the ending. BUT, given this handy statement, we know there is at least another book. Thank goodness too, because the ending of this book is brutal!
Luna has lived in the tower in the middle of nowhere for her entire life, with her guardians, Sivo and Perla. She isn't allowed to venture from the tower, especially not alone, despite being very capable of defending herself (thanks to Sivo's training). One night, she sneaks out, and saves the lives of three people, including Fowler, a young archer looking for a better life, trying to find a better life elsewhere. Circumstances force Luna to leave the tower - with Fowler. Together, they must brave the forest - and their own secrets - and fight to stay alive.
Luna is such a different heroine in YA. She's the lost princess of Relhok, born on the day an eclipse brought eternal darkness over the land. Everyone thinks she died with her parents that day - many don't know she exists. Luna is protected and coddled by Sivo and Perla, yet she is more than capable of defending and handling herself. There is something that makes her so striking, so extraordinary. I am very curious to know how her birth ties with the eclipse, and why she is inherently recognized as special and unique (when people meet her, they can almost tell something is different).
I like Luna; she's brave and stubborn and a bit proud - she tries to be her best and strongest self, and it's pretty cool to see how she grows for the duration of this book. She isn't quite the same person, by the end of the book. She'd never been away from her tower for so long and so far, and the experiences Outside have changed her. And yet, she still has all of her internal light and goodness.
Fowler is our other protagonist. This book is written in first-person dual POV, switching between Luna and Fowler. I liked both of their POV's. Fowler is gruff and stern and serious, and he has secrets of his own. He doesn't let anyone past his walls, and he doesn't show much emotion. He doesn't want to be Luna's friend (yet she wiggles her way past his armor). Fowler is the way he is because of life in the eclipse; he's hardened and determined to find a better life in Allu, free of dwellers (creepy creatures that started to appear after the eclipse).
I like Fowler a lot - he's a strong male protagonist, protective and intelligent, more selfless than he thinks. I liked seeing Luna and Fowler warm up to each other - it took Fowler a long time, because he refused to want to like her. He blames himself for a lot of things in his past, and he doesn't want to drag anyone with him. Noble idiot.
The world of this book is pretty fascinating, but not outrageously special. Luna and her tower reminded me of Rapunzel (is this a retelling ish?). I'd like to see more of the setting in Relhok, but I think that's to come. Overall, well-written world-building novel of an epic fantasy novel.
I LOVE the romance. You guessed it - Luna and Fowler slowly fall for each other. And by "slow" I MEAN SLOW. It's nice, the slow-burn romance. I like the types of romances that go from hate to love, and do it in such a slow and simmery way. This romance had it all. Well, no love triangle, that's for sure. There aren't "steamy scenes" - given how the romance progressed, there was some tension, but more trust and emotions, and then some chemistry. I'm curious to see where the romance will head in the next book!
I'm especially curious to see the direction the book will head in general. Luna and Fowler discover something pretty radical that the king is doing, as well as Fowler learns some serious things about Luna, and Luna learns some serious things about Fowler. Luna will have to make a choice, given how the book ended. The story really opens up at the end; I was wondering when the author would start to incorporate some of the ideas she was hinting at and foreshadowing (Luna's birth and the eclipse, her inherent goodness, etc.). Hopefully all will be revealed in the next book!
Oh cruel ending! The ending of this book was really mean, honestly. It's a perfect hook for the sequel, and I'm 99% sure this will be a duology only... but the ending killed me a little! Like I said before, if this book were a standalone, it would be getting maximum three stars. That. Ending!
What I Did Not Like:
I think, overall, I enjoyed this book. I didn't LOVE it like it's my new favorite, but I liked the story. I zipped through it fairly quickly. One thing that I would have liked more explanation on was the eclipse, as well as Luna's birth and the eclipse, but I'm sure we'll get more of that in book two. Also I'm slightly confused about the science of the book - are we assuming the plants and trees and vegetation of the forest don't need the sun to survive? Chemotrophs here? And humans too... we NEED sunlight to survive (there are health problems from lack of sunlight). I'm not going to think too much on the science (which is weird, coming from this environmental engineer), but I think there were some inconsistencies!
Would I Recommend It:
I wouldn't NOT recommend it! It's an interesting book, and a very fast read. I will say that the ending is pretty cruel, so maybe binge-read the series, or read this one at your own risk. You are warned! If you liked what I said about the romance, then this book is a solid choice!
3.5 stars -> rounded up to 4 stars. I'm pretty happy with this book! I'm not questioning/looking further into a few things - using my imagination and letting things go. I enjoyed the book! So glad there's no love triangle or other weird Sophie Jordan YA novel aspects - let me not speak too quickly though!
Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!