- Title: The Shadows Between Us
- Series: no
- Author: Tricia Levenseller
- Publisher & Release: Feiwel & Friends – February 2020
- Length: 333 pages
- Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⚡ yes but not for the advertised age group
Thank you to Shelf Love Crate for featuring this book in the monthly box. I am loving the alternate cover.
Here is the description from GoodReads:
Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:
1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.
No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.
But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?
So here we are with my second Levenseller book. Let’s start with the age recommendation: Amazon states that 13-18 is the reading level, but do we really want to show 13 year olds a promiscuous character that doesn’t care if she sleeps with 1 or 100 men? I believe Alessandra is only 18 as well, and it started when she was 15. I know that kids see and hear a lot worse online but is this really the message that high school girls need to see?
So Levenseller’s main takeaway from the book is that she wants to empower women. Alessandra is a cunning character, definitely a Slytherin, who has no problem lying, deceiving, murdering, and using her feminine wiles to seduce, marry, then murder the king. She definitely empowers the other women at court to be their own people, and learns about the power of friendship. I just don’t love the message of using men for their money and trinkets and power, and a 13 year old isn’t going to be able to think through the “sexually empowered” vs “trollop” argument that is made. So parents – be warned.
For an adult, I can totally get behind the morally gray, Slytherin romance. I did enjoy watching them get closer. Kallias and his dog are everything in the whole book, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bookish King let his dog sleep in the bed before. 100% love this guy even if I am kind of blanking on what to make of his shadow magic. I expected it to be a dark magic but it was more regenerative than anything.
Also nothing else about the entire book was magical, and I’m not sure how I feel about only one person having magic when the rest of the world is entirely benign. No one really seems to covet the magic either except those in the line of ascension – plus the king is kind of a (very nice but also brutal) tyrant.
Plot wise, I was never unable to put the book down but it did keep a steady pace. I wasn’t bored but wasn’t 100% engaged either. Just like with Warrior of the Wild, I never felt like anyone was ever in real danger and Levenseller loves convenient and magical healing abilities. I enjoyed a good morally gray slow burn on the court proceedings. The intrigue level was appropriate for a stand alone. I didn’t really like how she threw guns and electricity into an otherwise obviously historical fantasy with kings, carriages, peasants and the like.
Overall … I don’t know. I give it a three point five and am tempted to round down for GoodReads. It’s rather unique for a young adult book. I would recommend for teens and adults alike as long as they’re aware of the content, it could be a good conversation starter.
Have you read it? Want to discuss it? I kind of do! Drop a comment below