ARC Review: Kingdom of Shadows and Dust by Sherry Ficklin

About the Book:

Title: Kingdom of Shadows and Dust

Author: Sherry Ficklin

Page Length: 300

Publication Date: Sept. 14, 2021

Publisher: TrueType Press

Synopsis: A voiceless captive of tradition, driven to defend her kingdom.

As the king’s only daughter, Ava has suffered the solitary isolation of a noble woman as long as she can remember. While she dreams of fighting alongside the armies of Ankara, she’s forced to hide her identity behind a veil.

It seems her prayers are answered when fate intervenes, allowing Ava to sneak away and join the battle. Yet the tides of war turn on her, leaving the young beauty defeated… her hopes shattered. Her only chance at salvation is Callan, a mysterious black wolf willing to risk everything by hiding her away among his kind.

But there are some dangers far more ominous than the snapping jaws of a wolf.

Ripped away from the brave Turnskins, Ava is imprisoned by the beguiling Shadow King who fills her head with promises of peace and a haze of passion. Forced to choose between family, the bond she shares with Callan, and the handsome king, Ava finds herself torn between duty and desire.

When sacrifice is required to save all she holds dear, will Ava accept the crushing demands of taking the crown? Or follow her heart to the forbidden touch she desperately craves?

LINKS:     Goodreads    |      Amazon   

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My Review:

Kingdom of Shadows and Dust follows Ava, a princess whose kingdom is embroiled in a war with a neighboring kingdom. As Ava becomes more immersed in the war, she finds out that things are not always what they seem, and as she uncovers greed, secrets, and power-hungry motivations, Ava must decide who and what she is fighting for.

A golden cage is still a cage.

Ava wants to be more than just a princess and a political pawn and spends much of the story on a physical, as well as an emotional, journey. She learns so much about herself and what kind of leader she wants to be. She learns what it means to be strong. Above all, she understands that there are many different kinds of love, and all are worthwhile and good. Ava grows and learns so much over the course of the story, and she never loses that fierce determination to help her people.

I’m still not sure how I feel about the love triangle. I like both of Ava’s potential love interests and can totally see her with both. They both have a deep and profound respect for Ava, though one seems to truly love her, which makes sense since he’s Ava’s fated mate. He, like Ava, is willing to sacrifice anything to see her protected and happy. The other potential romance has a lot of chemistry and witty banter and is promising, but it isn’t as deep and strong as the first. It’s interesting to see who Ava chooses as she grapples with staying true to her heart and doing what is best for her brother and her people.

There are many kinds of love, my darling. Some soft and quiet, others riotous and inescapable.

I love some of the other relationships Ava had, including her lovely bond with her younger brother and her long-lasting friendship with her best friend. Ava’s motivation often stems from protecting those she loves, especially her brother, which says a lot about her character and the strength of their love. And I love that she has such a strong relationship with her best friend. They have been so close for so long that they act more like brother and sister than friends, and it’s clear that they love each other (in a totally platonic way). And I think that’s what at the heart of this story – love. What are you willing to sacrifice to protect those you love? Can love conquer all? Is there room in one’s heart for many different loves? Do people show love in different ways?

You must fight, not only for your own life but for the lives of everyone around you, everyone you love, everyone who cannot fight for themselves.

I do wish there was a bit more world-building, as I found so many aspects of the book really interesting. The story introduces many different kingdoms, lands, people, legends, and magical elements, but they weren’t as vividly described as I had hoped. However, I believe this is the first book in the series, and these elements will probably be developed more in future books.

Overall, this is an enjoyable read, and I look forward to reading more by this author. The story is filled with action, romance, political drama, battles, humor, natural disasters, secrets, betrayal, and more. I think readers who enjoy YA fantasy will enjoy Kingdoms of Shadow and Dust. Thanks so much to NetGalley, TrueType Press, and the author for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.


Favorite Parts:

  • Ava. She is a well-developed and interesting protagonist.
  • The messages about love.

Favorite Lines:

I can’t help but wonder if this is what love is: being known for all your glories and faults, and knowing that person would always be there for you despite them.

I am yours, Ava, to the core of me. No magic could change that.

Greed and power, all things can be traced back to them in one way or another. They are at the heart of all men.

Hate is a poison. It does not matter now where it began; we are all infected with it.

I can handle your wrath, but your silence is a blow I may not survive.


Readers who like the following tropes will enjoy this YA fantasy:

  • insta-love
  • fated mates
  • love triangles

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