Book reviews, musings and waffle from a British lit addict

Review: ‘Shadowland’ by Rhiannon Lassiter

Rating: 2.5 stars

Format: Paperback

Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewer program

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Science Fiction

(Re)published: By Oxford University Press in July 2010

What the blurb said:

‘What happens here is real and dangerous. You have stumbled into a darkness you don’t understand.’ They thought they could handle it. They thought they understood the rules. They were wrong. Now four of Earth’s teenagers are trapped in new and unfamiliar worlds – paying for their part in destroying the city of Shattershard …and almost destroying each other. Each thinks they know their friends from their enemies, but who can they really trust? And will they ever find their way home?

What I would say:

In the interests of fairness, I should probably mention that this is the third in a series of five. If my objectivity fails me, just remind me of that fact! So, on to my thoughts…

I’ve tried to think of this book from two different perspectives when formulating my opinions: as part of a series I’m familiar with and; as part of a series I’m new to. The conclusion I keep coming back to is that it doesn’t quite work as either. Nearly the whole of the first half of this book is recapping the events of the previous two. I know how I feel when a series does this and I already know the characters and back stories – I find it a little bit annoying so I can say with some confidence that this recap would be a little too exhaustive. Now looking from the perspective of someone who was new to the series (as I actually was), the recap was still a tad too much – I found that because it took up so much of the book, I couldn’t get into the story or characters as much and the ‘action’ was stalled for too long.

That said, what I did see of the characters I liked and the worlds in which our lead characters are stuck are interesting. The worlds all centre around the ‘Great Library’ where Doors lead off to different worlds controlled by different factions – personal favourites of mine were the faction who believed in idolising books but NEVER reading them and the faction who was obsessed with making lists and cataloguing books!

There is a nice mixture of politics and magic – Morgan, who was a ‘Goth’ on Earth is now a powerful witch and Laura aspires to be a manipulative politician (and that isn’t an indictment on politicians but on Laura!). The contrast makes for a good range of interpretations of the same characters. I really liked the premise of the book but felt that, as soon as I started to get invested in the story, it was over…

Overall: This would be suited to a younger reader looking for a mild-mannered introduction to fantasy fiction with some ‘mild peril’ or possibly to someone looking to try out science fiction without investing too much time.