Early 5bat! Review: The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams

October 18, 2011 Review 14

Early 5bat! Review: The Shadow Reader by Sandy WilliamsThe Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams
Series: McKenzie Lewis #1
Published by Penguin on October 25th 2011
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Urban
Format: Paperback
Pages: 320
Sexual Content: Kissing. References to rape.
Reviewed by: Abigail
5 Stars

A Houston college student, McKenzie Lewis can track fae by reading the shadows they leave behind. For years she has been working for the fae King, tracking rebels who would claim the Realm. Her job isn't her only secret. She's in love with Kyol, the King's sword-master-but human and fae relationships are forbidden. When McKenzie is captured by Aren, the fierce rebel leader, she learns that not everything is as she thought. And McKenzie must decide who to trust and where she stands in the face of a cataclysmic civil war.

There is something shocking about McKenzie Lewis, the protagonist in THE SHADOW READER by Sandy Williams.  She’s not a super woman/warrior goddess/magical titan capable of destroying the universe with a wink.  Nope, unlike many urban fantasy heroines these days, McKenzie is pretty normal.  She does have one ability that sets her apart from the rest of us; she’s a shadow reader, someone who can watch a fae ‘fissure’ (instantly teleport from one location to another) and know exactly where they will reappear.  A highly coveted skill when there is a fae civil war going on, which is why McKenzie finds herself being sought after by both sides.

Where do I start with all the things I loved about THE SHADOW READER?  The fae mythology wasn’t overly complex, but it was unique and perfectly suited to this world.  I especially loved the idea of chaos lusters, tiny, visible lightning bolts that dance over the skin under certain circumstances like when fae touch humans.  And speaking of touching, the tug-of-war going on with McKenzie’s heart was nothing compared to what I felt.  How do you choose between the honorable warrior Kyol loyal to the fae king and the determined rebel leader Aren?

Another highlight for me was the constant cloud of doubt I was kept in.  I was thrown back and forth suspecting first Kyol then Aren and back again so many times that I got dizzy.  Just like McKenzie, I never knew who to fully trust, who to love, or who to align with.  And just when I’d think I ‘d finally figured it out, something would happen and raise the questions all over again.  The action was relentless and the emotions kept so sky high that I couldn’t decide until the very end.

THE SHADOW READER is a fantastically fun urban fantasy!  One of the best debuts of the year and easily my favorite fae urban fantasy since Karen Marie Moning’s Darkfever series.  Wonderfully integrated mythology that flowed naturally in the story without needing lengthy explanations, a to die for love triangle, and a relatable non-super woman protagonist who relies on her brain and bravery to fight for what she wants.  This is a book that checked off all my urban fantasy wish list boxes and I can’t wait to read the sequel.

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14 Responses to “Early 5bat! Review: The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams”

  1. Abigail

    Amber – It was a wonderfully fun read, so I'm glad my review conveyed that 🙂 Hope you love it too!

  2. Lexi

    Nice review! This book has been in my TBR list, and now after reading this I really really can't wait even more!

  3. Rain Maiden

    Yea..and it's not like book nine in a series. I hate trying to catch up :). I'm loving all these great reviews you guys are throwing at us. I'll be adding this one to the list. Thanks for the review!

  4. Abigail

    Van – Isn't it fun?

    Lexi – I was completely won over by this book. it really held up even with all mu expectations.

    Rain – I know! I'm always a little discouraged when a book gets raved about but I haven't even started the series yet. This one is easy & ready to go, no waiting, no catching up to do 🙂

  5. Amanda Bonilla

    Great review! The Shadow Reader is a great book, and McKenzie is an amazing heroine! I'm already anxious for the next book in the series. 🙂

  6. erin

    Thanks for the review. Now I'm doing the anticipation dance. 🙂 Love the cover and have heard such wonderful buzz. I preordered from Amazon and can't wait to get my copy!

  7. Anonymous

    "One of the best debuts of the year and easily my favorite fae urban fantasy since Karen Marie Moning’s Darkfever series."

    I'm always on the lookout for new, intriguing fae stories, so your glowing rec for The Shadow Reader had me pretty much convinced to check it out. But when I read the above statement, even though the KMM series didn't quite deliver up what it promised in that first breathtaking book, I think I gasped out loud right before I hit the BUY link and placed it into my Amazon cart. THANK YOU!


  8. Abigail

    My Keepet Shelf – Oh good. The more of us who buy it, the more books we'll hopefully get to read 🙂

    Amanda – And I'm psyched to get my hands your upcoming urban fantasy, SHAEDES OF GRAY in Dec!

    Erin – Don't you love the cover? Gene Mollica did an amazing job, and this is one of those too rare situations where the book is actually better than the amazing cover!

    BevQB – I love the Fever series like crazy, and even though this book has a very different tone and style, it really is my favorite fae UF since KMM. I can't wait to hear details about the sequel.

  9. Melliane

    I'm so glad you liked it ! I can't wait to reveive it and read it, it sounds soooo great. Thanks for the review

  10. Unknown

    I read your review and bought the book and I am not disappointed at all. I loved it and OMG the love triangle. Usually I know who I want for the heroine Eric in sookie, barrons in fever, hunter in zodiac, pritkins in cassie and so on… However, I had such a hard time choosing between Kyol and Aren! I am glad it worked out in the end. I think ther person that wasn't chosen and Lena will be a good match. Maybe they'll grow on each other 😉 Anyway thanks for such a great suggestion! When you guys have time can you do another top ten list only this time divide them between the YA, paranormal, and ubran fantasy categories? I would love to see your top ten series for each category. Thank you!!!

  11. Abigail

    Melliane – Hope you love it!

    Unknown – I loved not being able to to predict who she would end up with too. And funny you should ask about more series list. We've been working on something pretty big along those lines. Stay tuned 🙂