Updated: Jul 28
I have never attempted to write a comprehensive review, and because I like to embarrass myself, I have not looked at any comprehensive reviews to prepare me for this. This will mostly be an echo of reviews that I've seen in the past that I would like to mirror in their depth while keeping enough distance that it's not too far-reaching.
Secondly, I am in no way a qualified reviewer of anything. My most relevant credentials to this is that I also self-published a novel within the Fantasy genre.
"Forgive me, Papa. I was only … only trying to do what is right. I'm sorry it came to this. I never wanted to hurt you. I never wanted to hurt … anyone."
-Excerpt from Where Shadows Lie
I didn't find this book on my own. I picked it up because it was the featured title for a book club that caught my eye. However, I am incredibly happy that I stumbled into it. Putting it mildly-- this novel was a joy to read, and an experience I am eager to share with others.
Without getting into all the details down below, it was a great read. It's not perfect, as no book will ever be, but it was damn near it for my tastes. If you like magic, expansive worldbuilding, and political intrigue-- this is for you. The next entry to this series is definitely one I will keep an eye out for.
Within the pages of Where Shadows Lie, Allegra Pescatore sets about the herculean task of not only establishing an expansive environment, but one that draws the reader into its many landscapes.
The world of Carinn is a vast one, and one that is deftly articulated and depicted in the interactions between the various characters, as well as the sharp descriptions of each scene. Pescatore does an excellent job of juggling the geographic contrasts between different settings, as well as the geopolitical distinctions that reside throughout her various established nations.
This world's political landscape is very central to the plot, and a remarkably satisfying thread to follow from beginning to end. The struggles of the common folk against a callous and shrewd ruling class is a theme that often serves as a bridge between the reader and the all-too-realistic problems the people of this world face.
Pescatore also establishes the beginnings of a rich history that surrounds this world, and will likely carry greater relevance in future installments.
I wouldn't call this story easy-to-follow, but it is not overly complicated or cumbersome. While it requires persistent attention to names and off-hand details, it is not so chock-full of random nonessentials to make that tiring.
This is, at its heart, a character-driven story. That does not mean that the plot is clumsy or uninteresting. It means that the characters and their development make this world and its people seem as natural as ours.
I must admit that, initially, I sometimes found myself frustrated with some characters' motivations, but this was not an issue that persisted throughout the novel.
There are five central/prominent points-of-view in this novel. There are a handful of others, but I won't linger on them for this review. The characters come from very diverse backgrounds, with different drives and ambitions that present very unique aspects of the same world they all inhabit.
I feel that having so many POVs in a single title sometimes tends to leave the storytelling a bit sloppy, but this was not the case at all when it came to Where Shadows Lie. I found myself on the heels of each character throughout the novel, despite when some actions were questionable at best. The fact that I was continually rooting for these characters, even when I was not always aligned with their decisions, proved to me that they were well-written and sympathetic.
Pescatore does not follow a specific pattern when it comes to rotating her POVs, but this serves the story well, as each characters' different journeys have their own pacing. The flow of the story is something that I feel obligated to commend here for its habit of constantly pulling me into each page.
I love this book. I would recommend it to anyone with an adoration for the fantastic, and a desire to jump into a big, new world. This is the first title in years that has had me cackling at 3am, and reluctant to turn the page in fear of what I might read next. There are some moments that I might question (That abrupt reveal, among them), but there was nothing I found that was glaring enough to pull my invested attention away from the text, and the characters that I have become so very attached to.
Five out of Five, without question. No book has made me feel the way this novel did in a long time.