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?
I really enjoy Tricia Levenseller’s books. They’re such fun fantasy books and I really enjoy her writing style. Her new standalone fantasy novel sounded really, really interesting and I couldn’t wait to read it. I’m all for girls plotting to murder kings and take the kingdom for themselves, but those pesky feelings get in the way.
I’ve noticed that with Levenseller’s standalone books, there’s one aspect that I really, really love, while I don’t love a couple other aspects. It makes for weird push and pull feelings, and I can never quite figure out how I feel about the book. For Warrior Of The Wild, it was the setting that I loved. For this book, it was the sexual tension, and in a broader sense, how the relationship between Alessandra and the Shadow King , Kallias, progressed. Dang, it was done really, really well. It’s basically the definition of slow burn. The heat builds under the skin until they feel like they’re going to burst into flames. It was wonderfully done and it kept me interested throughout the book.
I do not know how I feel about Kallias and Alessandra’s characters overall. This book went for the ruthless, angry, unapologetic approach, but I feel like it completely missed the mark. It’s not like it fell flat, but it veered completely in the wrong direction. There is a line, and I don’t think it’s even a fine one, between taking what is yours and not being sorry about it, and cruelty. I wasn’t a fan of what I felt was unnecessary killing. It’s not that they were unlikable, I just thought they were malicious in a way that was not fun to read.
I think it might have something to do with how it was written. Again, I just felt like I completely missed the mark. It’s like the author was going for empowered female who takes no injustice from anybody, but she ended up with a selfish killer. There’s nothing wrong with selfish female characters, I WANT female characters to be flawed, but something about how Alessandra, and even Kallias, was written rubbed me the wrong way. I guess they were meant to be villains and I guess I’m not as entranced by villains it seems everybody else is haha.
And it’s weird because I did kind of like Alessandra. I kind of liked the ruthlessness to her and how she’s so sure of herself. It’s like there were tiny specks of her that was a good person and that was not cruel, but it’s like the story pushed the villain storyline as much as it good. It tried to balance the villainous and goodness in her and Kallias, and it was just too wobbly for me.
The worldbuilding was sort of just there for me. I don’t quite get it; it almost seemed like an afterthought. It kind of took the backburner to everything else, but I was still interesting enough. And the whole plotline with the shadows was really interesting. I liked the story behind that and how it ended up playing out.
The plot twist is so, so confounding. There’s maybe a few lines that lead to it, but it honestly don’t really see how the story got there. It feels like it was pulled out of thin air to make the most shocking thing possible. It just didn’t fit for me. Though, at the end of the scenes, there was a really awesome moment that I really liked, so I can only complain about 3/4s of the time.
Despite the cruelty, weird sister hatred, bizarre plot twist, and off balance plot points, there’s something about this book that I really enjoyed. I liked it enough that I don’t regret reading it. The castle was such an interesting setting and the I liked how sex positive it was (and the sexual tension that goes along with that). It has a dark undertone that kept interested, even when things fell a little short for me. It’s a different book, but I think it’s pretty good.
Thank you for reading!