Series: Reign of Shadows #1
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: February 9, 2016
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 293 (ARC)
Source: New York Comic Con 2015
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.
With lush writing and a star–crossed romance, Reign of Shadows is Sophie Jordan at her best.
Oh, man, it kills me that I didn't love this book as much as I wanted to. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed it, but for the book I was most excited to grab at New York Comic Con this year, I'm disappointed.
Sophie Jordan builds a ridiculously awesome tale. A blind princess stuck in a tower (ala Rapunzel), forced to hide while the never ending darkness consumes her kingdom. And then a boy comes along, the first boy she has ever met actually, and turns her world upside down. There's even a funny scene where he's naked and she has no idea and oooohhhh the blushes. Anyway, back to seriousness.
Don't get me wrong, I love Luna even though her name reminds me of my cat. She's an incredibly strong heroine and she does not allow her blindness to hinder her. If anything, she uses it to her advantage to become more in tune with her other senses and really understand her surroundings. She is the type of main character any fantasy reader can get behind. And Fowler is pretty great, too. He's dead inside after losing everyone that means something to him. He just wants to survive and find a glimmer of light in this bleak world. Initially unhappy to be saddled with Luna because bad boys always prefer to travel alone, his heart slowly warms again as he realizes that the light of someone's life isn't always literal. This is a romance I could easily get behind!
The world is GREAT and the writing is pretty decent too because Luna's lack of sight doesn't hinder the telling of the story. I just love the idea behind this infinite night with terrible creatures that live underground and only come out in total darkness and feed on human flesh. Bats the size of humans flying around and dive bombing critters that hide in the forests? Creepy, yet so intriguing. A crazy King that murdered the royal family to take over the kingdom of Relhok, not knowing the newborn daughter survived and will one day reclaim her kingdom that he has run into the ground. Political intriuge, bloody wars, strong characters, an irresistable romance and a seriously messed up villain. What more could I want? The answer is that I want it all to fit together properly. There are so many amazing elements in this story and Jordan struggles to knit them together to create a properly fulfilling and complete tale. There's something lacking in the world-building, and I can't quite put my finger on it. There are no outright holes, but it's like the netting is sewn together and is barely hanging on.
My other issue is the predictability. There are certain bits in the story that were very easy to predict, and there's only one huge plot twist near the very end that I also saw coming pretty early on. The foreshadowing is a little too obvious, and anyone paying close attention can guess the twist. It really depletes from the reading experience because it is such an important twist, you know? It's just too obvious to be shocking, so the end of the novel doesn't pack as much of a punch as it could.
But, if you're like me and find yourself emotionally invested in Fowler and Luna because they're both so dang amazing, this ending is going to make you hurt. This cliffhanger is a heart-stopping doozy, and I am anxious for book two simply because I need to know what happens next--even if the foreshadowing leaves me with a few suspicions.
All in all, a decent read. Not amazing, but not terrible. It's quick, engaging, and will hold your attention long enough to make you want book two. And with an ending like this, you won't be able to fight the temptation to pick up book two because you'll need it so badly.
FTC Disclaimer: I received no compensation of any kind in exchange for this honest review.