McKenzie Lewis is having the roughest time trying to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. It’s taken her eight years because of her other job. McKenzie is known as a cartographer for the Fae. When things called fissures disappear, she can see the shadows left behind. Her official titles is a Nalkin-shom or in Fae slang, a Shadow With. Others use traep-shom- translation Shadow-bitch. The bitch part is what the rebels think of her since she works for the King of the Fey who they want to overthrow.
McKenzie has been found by the rebels who will kidnap her and use her to defeat the King. Coming to her defense is the king’s sword-master, Kyol. McKenzie has been in love with Kyol for ten years, but since it’s forbidden for humans and fae to be together, they can’t be anything more than friends. Kyol may or may not have feelings for her because he has acted on them in the past, but stopping before it can go too far to McKenzie’s dismay.
This time Kyol fails protecting her and McKenzie is kidnapped by rebel leader, Aren. He threatens and then pleads with her to listen to him because she has been lied to all this time. Plus, now that she’s with the enemy, the king could end up killing her so she can’t help the rebels. McKenzie is steadfast in her belief that the rebels are wrong and longs for Kyol to save her. But Aren is there to build upon her doubts not only about her unstable life, but of Kyol, who may or may not be using all this time her like the king has.
I had a blast reading The Shadow Reader. Sandy Williams has something special here. Her heroine is tough as nails, but inside hides her suffering. McKenzie is all alone and only has Kyol and one human friend for support. Sandy has a plausible explanation why McKenzie is cut off from her family, and one that won't have you rolling your eyes. Also, McKenzie’s yearning for Kyol will break your heart. I give major kudos to Sandy for making Aren just as appealing. McKenzie is torn between the two men, much like Carrie was from Sex in the City. Remember when Carrie was with Aidan, but still cared for Big? I wanted Carrie to be with both men because they were so perfect for her. The same happens her with McKenzie. I can’t choose who she should be with because both men are worthy partners for her.
The fighting scene are also well written and the dialogue lovely. I was never lost with the terminology or the events occurring. I wanted to cheer for McKenzie’s successes and suffer alongside her through her confusion and her defeats.
Silly side note: When I think of the name Kyol, I couldn’t help but think of the store Kohl’s or the black eye makeup. Did anyone else have this same problem?
Even though I’m all for the romance here, the tone of The Shadow Reader in regards to the sensuality is very subtle. Think of a PG rating. If you’re not a big fan of romance in urban fantasy, you will still enjoy this book. It has a great balance of everything I’m looking for in a reader.
Sandy Williams is one of my favorite debut authors of 2011 and one I will keep my eye on. I can’t wait for her next book featuring McKenzie and how she’ll handle Kyol, Aren and the world of the fae. (Ace)
Final Grade: B+