Oct 25, 2011

Posted by in Reviews | 15 Comments

Review: The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams (McKenzie Lewis #1)

Urban Fantasy
October 25 2011
Mass Market Paperback
307 pages
Ace Books
Received from publisher

Kick Ass Chick – McKenzie Lewis

From Goodreads –
Some humans can see the fae. McKenzie Lewis can track them, reading the shadows they leave behind. But some shadows lead to danger. Others lead to lies.

A Houston college student trying to finish her degree, McKenzie has been working for the fae king for years, tracking vicious rebels who would claim the Realm. Her job isn’t her only secret. For just as long, she’s been in love with Kyol, the king’s sword-master—and relationships between humans and fae are forbidden.

But any hope for a normal life is shattered when she’s captured by Aren, the fierce and uncompromising rebel leader. He teaches her the forbidden fae language and tells her dark truths about the Court, all to persuade her to turn against the king. Time is running out, and as the fight starts to claim human lives, McKenzie has no choice but to decide once and for all whom to trust and where she ultimately stands in the face of a cataclysmic civil war.


The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams is another example of how I let book pimpers (a.k.a. book bloggers) and pre-release buzz suck me in.  I had seen this book listed on quite a few “books to look out for” lists so of course, that got my curiosity going.  I read the blurb and that also got my curiosity going.  So I requested it and crossed my fingers.  By the time I received it, I had forgotten what is was about but I was still excited to read it.  I may not have remembered the blurb but I remembered the book pimpage.  So I cracked it open and I must say…wow.

The Shadow Reader is set in the Fae world.  Fae are invisible to most humans except for those who possess the Sight.  Then there are Shadow Readers.  These are humans who possess the Sight and who can read the shadows left behind when a fae fissures away.  They can basically track fae.  And depending on how good they are, they can be somewhat accurate or extremely accurate.   The better you are, the more in demand you are.  Well, McKenzie is exceptional.

She ‘works’ for the Court.  They are the good guys.  She lives in the human realm, but is compensated by the fae for her services.  The first chapter of the book immediately sucks you in as you follow McKenzie running for her life from the Rebel fae – the bad guys.  They catch her, kidnap her and want to keep her for their own use.

The story is told from McKenzie’s point-of-view.  She has been working for the fae for the past 10 years and she has gone through some pretty difficult events because of it.

McKenzie has been in love with Kyol from the moment she met him.  So…about 10 years now.  But the king forbids human/fae relationships so he is torn.  She knows he at least cares for her, but he’s fighting it.  Then she gets kidnapped by Aren.  Aren ladies…yum.  Kyol is not too shabby, but there is just something about Aren.  But Kyol has some really nice moments near the end of the book.  But Aren is just…rawr.  As you may have figured out, there is a bit of a love triangle thing going on in the book but not really at the same time.  It’s not an annoying one that makes you want to shake the girl and tell her to make up her damn mind before you smack her silly.  I like how Sandy handled the whole thing.  And while there is a ‘decision’ in the end, you wonder if it is the final one.  The chemistry is wonderful all around.

As for McKenzie, I really liked her.  Even though she sees the fae and knows she is good at what she does, she is just a normal human girl at heart.  She dreams of being able to just live a normal fae-free life.  She wants to get her University degree, get a (normal) job, meet a man, get married…  All the things most regular gals hope to achieve in life.  Yet she is in the middle of such extraordinary circumstances.  I love how she handles each situation she’s thrown into.  She’s not some superhero or mega-woman.  She’s McKenzie.  I really liked how Sandy wrote her.

The story itself was quite the ride.  You are always thinking while reading this book.  As McKenzie learns about the Rebels, you find yourself wondering if they are telling the truth or if the Court is.  And there are some pretty spectacular fight scenes, most without guns since fae can’t use modern technology.  Also let’s not forget the escape attempts.  And there are heart-breaking moments too.  Sad moments and surprising moments.  As I said, this book is a ride.  But it’s not written in a way where you feel like you need to stop to catch your breath.  The pacing is good – not too much, not too slow.

You really get involved in fae politics while reading this book (since that is pretty much the base of this story) and the ending of the book really leaves you curious as to what will happen next.  I liked how everything turned out.  I am also glad that there is another book in the works because I want to see if McKenzie sticks with her ‘choice’ and how the fae Realm ultimately copes with the outcome of the Rebels vs. the Court.  Book two is still untitled and not yet finished.  But at least it’s in the works.  Thank goodness for that.

It’s amazing how some debut authors just seem to know what they are doing right out of the gate – and Sandy Williams is definitely one of those authors.  Sandy explained the world without making it too daunting.  She introduced a huge cast of characters without making them feel forced on us and she packed the book with action and an interesting ‘not really’ love triangle that keeps you on your toes  and sometimes at the edge of your seat.  I was really impressed with the way this book was written.  The writer has a beautiful voice and I am anxious to see where she takes us next.

5 stars

Giggle worthy quote

“’He doesn’t love you,’ he says.

I slap him.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it’s because all my doubts, all my frustrations, surge over me like a tidal wave.  I don’t want to face them.  Not now.

‘I see,’ Aren says quietly.

I shouldn’t have slapped him.  It’s such a weak, girly thing to do.  I should have balled my hand into a fist and launched it at his nose.

  1. Vicki Casso says:

    Thanks! Looks like you have found a new series for me!

  2. I just started it last night and I’m loving it so far. The first few chapters are stellar! I can’t wait to get further into it! Paul grumbled about having to carry around a book with a hot chick yielding a sword on it. LOL We really have to pass a naughtier covered novel between our men one of these days. 😉

  3. *ack* I KNEW better than to read this review, but oooh, this one sounds good… We’ll just have to see how weak I am when I see it in a store….

  4. I am totally buying this one today!! Great review 😀

  5. Rain Maiden Jen says:

    Your the third five star review that I have read for this book. There is no way I’m passing this story up. Thanks for the post. 🙂

  6. I have seen this cover but I have not seen any reviews yet. I am so excited that you liked it. The way that you talked about the main character makes me think I will really like her too! I will add this to my wish list!!

  7. Want!!!! 😀 There you see, I have also been swept away by bookpimps. Cos it does sound really good, and it sure makes me want to read it

  8. This book sounds fantastic. I’m adding this one to my TBR ASAP.
    Great review.

  9. I do love that cover, and your review sure makes me interested.

  10. Vicki – I believe this is a book that both UF and PNR fans will enjoy. 🙂

    Carmel – I love the way it starts off. Just bam!

    Christi – The cover will call your name. It’s a beautiful cover. 😉

    Pamela – Buy it Buy it Buy it! You will like it!

    Rain Maiden – It has been getting great reviews!

    Shannon – I think you’d like it too. It’s a good book all around. 🙂

    blodeuedd – I can’t wait to read your review on your blog! 🙂

    Bookaholic Cat – You need this book. That is all.

    aurian – The cover is very pretty. And the story is solid. 🙂

  11. OOOh I really can’t wait to receive it ! Great review, it sounds sooo good. I’m glad you liked this one, I just love Faes , and it sounds really interesting to learn so much about them.

  12. I do love that cover,n it aint a cheazy 1

  13. I’m really interested in this title – hey it mentions readers LOL

  14. Great review Julie. I’ve noticed that the books that I go into not remembering what they are about are some of my favorites. This one does sound very good and I’m adding it to my TBR list to be read at a later date. 🙂

  15. Melliane – Oh! You’ll really enjoy it if you are into fae books!

    roro – The cover really is beautiful. I looked at it often while reading the book. lol

    Shelleyrae – Readers…LOL!

    Deanna – You will like this one. 🙂


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