Warning: Shadowblack is the second book in Sebastian De Castell’s awesome YA fantasy series, the first book is Spellslinger so head on over to my book 1 review if you haven’t read it yet. This book 2 review will likely spoil you for the ending of book 1!
It’s a few months since Kellen left his people behind. Now aged sixteen, Kellen is an outlaw, relying on his wits to keep him alive in the land of the Seven Sands. He misses home, he misses family and more than anything, he misses Nephenia, the girl he left behind.
Then he meets Seneira, a blindfolded girl who isn’t blind, and who carries a secret that’s all too familiar to Kellen. Kellen and Ferius resolve to help – but the stakes are far higher than they realise. A Shadowblack plague is taking hold – and Kellen can’t help but suspect his own people may even be behind it.
Author: Sebastian De Castell
Release: October 5, 2017
Genre: fantasy, young adult
Publisher: Allen & Unwin Australia
Link to buy book here.
True to form, this book made me cackle in its first few pages. Kellen’s voice is incredibly sarcastic and at times downtrodden, but he’s also determined even though he keeps messing up. Whilst Spellslinger was more of a threatening Kellen’s safety, forcing him mentally and physically, type of journey… Shadowblack had a different essence (even if Kellen is still making accidentally the wrong choices).
I always get worried about second books in series. You know that “second book syndrome”, where it could just feel like filler? Well, Shadowblack trod on that fear and squished it. I loved this story just as much as Spellslinger even though it felt different: it focussed more on Kellen’s maturing and growth as a character with the added burden of the Shadowblack.
There is definitely a romantic undertone in this book, more so than book 1, but that didn’t dominate the story. It was genuine, confused and honest. Kellen had no idea how to feel, act, or what he was doing (so, not much different than book 1 in general, ha) which really represented that he was only sixteen. He’s clever, but a bit selfish, especially at the beginning. He rebels. There’s a Shadowblack plague and he’s desperate to help, but it’s like struggling in a net… he just propels himself further into a tangled mess.
The one-liners, the banter… DEFINITELY made me cackle while reading. Often people around me would raise an eyebrow like “is that gal okay?”. I LOVE THE SQUIRREL CAT. AAAAH. If he gets called “a pet” he’d likely eat your eyeballs. And he chatters along but only Kellen can understand his actual words. Ferius just guesses and is surprisingly accurate. We learn a teeny bit of Ferius’ past and I need more detail?! That’s probably the most teasing part of the story, because you realise things as Kellen does, and he hasn’t experienced understanding yet.
I’m deliberately vague, sorry. It’s either that or I slam a whole paragraph of !!!!! to emphasise my excitement about these character dynamics and the possible plot avenues! This conclusion could’ve been quite predictable in regards to the pattern of YA, but surprisingly it wasn’t. (I won’t mention what or why, you’ll have to find that out yourself!) Kellen truly grew, definitely in mind, in peace, in understanding and strength. This book was hilarious, an absolute delight, and had the same intriguing dark unique undertones that Spellslinger did.
I want everyone to read this series. If you love fantasy, you’ll adore it. It’s so zingy and quick, like a really tasty, satisfying snack FOR YOUR MIND. (Trust me just go okay.) And now the wait begins for book 3.
5 / 5 stars
Huuuuge thank you to Allen & Unwin for sending me this awesome book in exchange for a review!