Knopf Books for Young Readers
Sept. 11, 2012
Juliet Marillier has long been a favorite author. I am a fan of her Sevenwaters books and especially the Bridei Chronicles. I also enjoyed her previous Young Adult novels, Wildwood Dancing and Cybele’s Secret. No other author can transport me as fully into a believable fantasy world and Shadowfell does not disappoint.
Set in Alban (ancient Scotland), Neryn and her father have been on the run for three years from the King’s Enforcers. King Keldec has established a reign of terror, focusing on all magic users in the kingdom. He sends out bands of mounted warriors each fall to find all magic users, even healers, to either kill them or bend them to his will. Friends and neighbors have turned on each other in fear of the Enforcers and no one is safe. Neryn lost her grandmother and older brother in an Enforcer raid and now she is being pursued. Her father has succumbed to grief and a fondness for drink so 16 year old Neryn has become the responsible adult. They are down to the last few coins but her father insists on joining a game of chance. Drinking and losing heavily, he wagers Neryn herself in the game. A cloaked and hooded man wagers and wins her. Neryn is horrified and terrified as he drags her away, only to witness an Enforcer raid on the gambling boat. This begins an epic journey to Shadowfell, hidden base of rebel forces.
Neryn is understandably traumatized and suspicious, especially of Flint, the hooded man. Though only a few years older than herself, he is obviously a seasoned warrior. Flint is unfailingly courteous and kind but refuses to explain exactly who he is and why he is helping her. Neryn’s special ability is that of seeing and speaking with the “Good Folk”, fae woodland beings who are also persecuted by the king. The “Good Folk” think that Neryn has other abilities, abilities that will bring about the overthrow of King. She must pass seven tests on the journey in order to prove herself.
Ms. Marillier weaves magic and folklore into all her books and this is no sanitized, Disney-like tale. Neryn has many tests but the greatest is learning to trust again. Shadowfell is highly recommended for teens and adults alike. I look forward to the second book of the Shadowfell Trilogy.
Rating- 4 Stars
Rating- 4 Stars