About the Book:
Title: Of Shade and Shadow: The Exiled
Author: Niamh Schmid and Rebecca Schmid
Series: A Daughter’s Ransom #1
Page Length: 391
Publication Date: Dec. 19, 2020
Synopsis: The Great War is won… so everyone tells her. But even with her brother now king, Astra Verzaer knows the fight is far from over. When her sudden exile finds her alone in the dreary country of Merimeethia with only the aloof Prince Louko for company, she digs deeper in vain attempts to find proof of her suspicions.
Series Synopsis: The TetraWorlds live in ignorance of each other’s existence. One fallen behind in a Medieval time of fantastic and dangerous creatures, another fallen asleep in the comfort of their Victorian age, and the last torn apart by its own Modern innovation. When a dark threat rises up against them–one so quiet that none know to stop it, a Guard from each world must be called to protect their planet’s source. But what will happen when these worlds entwine?
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There are a lot of things I like about Of Shade and Shadow: The Exiled – the fantastic character development, the intriguing plot, the amazing friendship, and the unique fantasy world. The story takes place a year after a war has ended, and the characters are adjusting to life post-war. Astra Verzaer is struggling to control her powers and is exiled from her home country after a particularly dangerous accident and amid speculation about her role in the war. Her brother, now king, arranges for Astra to stay in Merimeethia and is escorted there by Louko, the sarcastic and aloof prince. As the prince and Astra become friends, they also face dangerous obstacles, and their lives are in constant danger.
Astra and Louko are well-developed and unique characters, and I love their developing friendship. The story switches back and forth between their perspectives, which gives each character a distinct voice. You get to understand their thoughts and feelings and learn how they feel about everything their experiencing. I also thought it was really interesting to see how Astra and Louko felt about each other when they were going through some of the more intense situations. When Louko is mistreated, for example, Astra has such a strong reaction, which I think says a lot about her feelings for him and their growing friendship.
At the start of the book, Astra and Louko begrudgingly travel together, and though they know each other from the war, they don’t seem very close. However, as the story progresses, their friendship grows. Astra and Louko are very different in temperament and attitude, yet for them, it works. They develop a lovely connection, and I like how they accept each other and want the best for each other without really expecting anything in return. I think Astra and Louko are both deeply wounded people who feel very much alone and abandoned in the world. (Speaking of that, you should check the content warnings before reading the book. There are some topics, including verbal abuse, physical abuse, violence, and more that could be triggers for readers.) So, this friendship is meaningful and important to them both, and it shows. I like how they fight for each other and try to help each other through all the tests and obstacles they face. Their friendship is definitely one of the highlights of the novel.
I found many of the other characters really interesting too, including Astra’s brother, several members of Louko’s family and the soldiers who travel with them. There are some interesting dynamics, as one character struggles to become a leader, another becomes ingratiated in anger, and all deal with political turmoil and country-wide upheaval. I never quite trusted any of the characters, except for Louko and Astra, and often couldn’t decide who was traitorous and villainous and who wasn’t. This heightened the suspense and added to the mysterious and ominous tone, as did the perilous physical and emotional journeys throughout the book.
I enjoyed this story. It has interesting fantasy elements, especially the shapeshifting and Astra’s unique powers. I was hoping to learn more about both, and I’m curious to see how these aspects of the story develop as the series progresses. There are also several plot twists and surprising revelations that held my interest, and the cliffhanger ending is fantastic. I enjoyed the mystery and action, as well as the suspense and they lovely friendship, and I’m eager to pick up the next book and find out what happens next! Thanks so much to the authors for gifting me a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
- The friendship between Astra and Louko.
- The character development.
- They mystery.
Logic alone is as cold as a dead man’s bones.
Wishing gets no one anywhere except stuck in a fantasy.
You’re the only friend I have, Astra. The only one. If you leave, I have nothing – and I can’t do that again. I can’t just let you go off like you don’t matter.
This is a good read for people who enjoy slow-building YA fantasy.