The Shadow Reader (10/2011)
The Shattered Dark (10/2012)
This is a series with incredibly intricate world building and a well-devised story arc. The primary supernaturals in this world are the fae, who move between their Realm and mortal earth, but are unknown to most mortals. The few mortals who are aware of them are vigilantes, who are dedicated to the destruction of all fae as well as the humans who work with them. As the story opens, the fae king, Atroth, is attempting to put down a rebellion. One of his best weapons against the rebels is his human shadow reader (aka nalkin-shom), McKenzie Lewis, the 26-year-old virginal heroine of the series. McKenzie was born with the ability to track a fae's movements by reading the shadows as he or she fissures—that is, teleports, or moves between dimensions. Here is McKenzie describing the shadow reading experience:
"My shadow-readings always look like they're drawn by a schizophrenic....To a normal human, the final sketch probably looks like a kindergartner's drawing, but to a fae who hears me name a city or a region, it's as good as having an imprinted anchor-stone. Without an anchor-stone or a shadow-reader naming the location on his or her map, fae can only fissure to places they've memorized. It's sort of like humans and phone numbers: they can remember dozens upon dozens of locations, but if they don't think about them often or dial in on occasion, they tend to forget them completely." (pp. 47-48)
Click HERE to go to a the author's "Fae to English Dictionary," a brief glossary of fae terms used in the series.
If you love to read about love triangles among the fae, I highly recommend Seanan McGuire's excellent OCTOBER DAYE series. Toby Daye is a true urban fantasy heroine, with top-notch fighting skills and plenty of street cred. Click HERE to read my review of that series.
Aren knows that McKenzie's biased beliefs about the rebels are the result of her brainwashing by Atroth and his court fae, and he is determined to make her understand his side of the story by teaching her the forbidden fae language and telling her the truth about events of the past and present. The story follows McKenzie as she is jerked back and forth from one side (and one man) to the other, never knowing quite what, or who, to believe. At times, McKenzie comes across as a strong and independent UF heroine, but at other times, she turns into a fragile female who must be rescued by one of her big, strong boyfriends. She definitely gets beat up, strangled, shot, and stabbed more than any other character in the story. The overall theme of the book deals with the fact that the truth is frequently hidden in gray areas that are difficult to see through. As Kyol and Aren each try to convince McKenzie that his side is the most righteous, truthful, and virtuous, McKenzie learns an agonizing lesson—that the "truths" she has always believed about the court and the rebels aren't as straightforward as she thought they were.
Lena Zarrack: fae; sister of Sethan, the man who hopes to take the throne away from Atroth
Kelia: fae; daughter of a nobleman who falls in love with a former vigilante and joins the rebels
Naito: human: son of the leader of the vigilantes, now a rebel and the lover of Kelia
Lorn: fae; bondmate of Kelia, but only for her magic; a mercenary who deals with both sides and looks out for his own welfare, but has a good heart
Lord General Radath: fae; the villainous leader of the king's army who hates all humans and talks the king into allowing atrocities that kill humans and innocent fae as well as rebels
As the remnants keep attacking, McKenzie learns that they have kidnapped her best friend, Paige. Eventually, McKenzie and Paige are reunited, but with disastrous results for both of them. As the book comes to a close, McKenzie is seriously injured (in yet another attack by the remnants), and Kyol makes a decision that saves her life but changes his life and the lives of McKenzie and Aren forever.