Saturday, December 31, 2011

Review: Shadow Heir

Shadow Heir (Dark Swan - Book 4) by Richelle Mead

Publication Date: December 27, 2011
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: Paperback, 390pp
ISBN-13: 978-1420111804
ISBN: 1420111809

(Received for an honest review from Kensington Zebra)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Richelle Mead on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter

Books in the Series: Storm Born (2008), Thorn Queen (2009), Iron Crowned (2011), Shadow Heir (2011)

CoverArt: Click the picture for a larger, clearer image of the covers in this series.

Excerpt from Shadow Heir


Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham strives to keep the mortal realm safe from trespassing entities. But as the Thorn Land's prophecy-haunted queen, there's no refuge for her and her soon-to-be-born-children when a mysterious blight begins to devastate the Otherworld...

The spell-driven source of the blight isn't the only challenge to Eugenie's instincts. Fairy king Dorian is sacrificing everything to help, but Eugenie can't trust that synergy drawing them back together. The uneasy truce between her and her shape shifter ex-lover Kiyo is endangered by secrets he can't - or won't - reveal. And as a formidable force rises to also threaten the human world, Eugenie must use her own cursed fate as a weapon - and risk the ultimate sacrifice...


Shadow Heir is the final book in the Dark Swan urban fantasy series written by prolific writer Richelle Mead of Vampire Academy fame. Mead is a favorite author of mine in both the adult and young adult market. This is a series that I have been particularly interested in since it's onset, but I have to admit this is a difficult review to write. Mead's writing is exceptional as always. Her characters are multi-faceted and engaging. The plot was in keeping with the feel of the series and Mead's descriptive prowess is formidable. Shadow Heir is suspenseful, emotional and riveting. So why can't I write a spectacular review?

My issues with this book do not stem in any way from the writing or the crafting of this series. The series itself is definitely a favorite of mine and I would recommend it to any Urban Fantasy reader. This book in particular was difficult for me as a reader, but in a sense I see where Mead was going with it, despite the fact that I didn't like it. I think readers were expecting something different for this final book in the series and when we didn't get it we were disappointed, a little mystified, maybe even a little angry with how Mead chose to end it. 

Eugenie has been a character that has always given me a bit of pause. Even from the beginning of the series, she has always seemed a bit to artificial. Like she had some kind of hidden agenda that the reader could sense but not figure out. As the series has unfolded, a little of that aloofness, that serious exterior has kind of broken down a bit and I have found more about her, that I could like. Her sense of duty. Her conflicted ideas of about who and what she was. I even understood her suspicions of Dorian and how she felt he betrayed her. So I had high hopes that the final book in the series would come full circle and show readers a different Eugenie. One who had grown and thrived and come into her own, but I was to be disappointed.

In the end Mead chose to have Eugenie make some decisions that readers didn't see coming. How she chose to handle the situation with Dorian was beyond my comprehension in a lot of ways. Perhaps Mead was going for the shock factor. Maybe she wanted to end this series in a way that would be totally unexpected. I don't know. I was completely dumb founded. I wanted a happy ending and there was one, Eugenie ended up with the man she wanted despite everything, but it was so hypocritical that I was almost sick. I'm not one to give away spoilers in my reviews and I won't do that this time, but I will say that Mead ended this book on a very sour note. If another book was in the works, one that would somehow undo what happened here or show a reason for it, I might have been able to let it go, but this is the final installment. How could it end like that? 

I rarely ever have such a gut-wrenching reaction to a book. I like just about everything I read. Shadow Heir certainly won't turn me against Mead as a writer. My issues were with the where the story went not how it was written. The writing in and of itself was fantastic. The loose ends that Mead doesn't tie up to end the series, only gave me reason to consider on my own how I would have wanted these things to go. But, I hurt for Dorian. I fell like he's living a lie not of his own making. Were it me, and I eventually find out the truth behind Eugenie's lies, there would no place in or out of hell she could hide from me. That's how strongly I reacted to this one. So I guess I can see where Mead was going. She wanted that reaction and she damn well got it.

The writing would have gotten this one a four or a five, but I could not in good conscious give it that high of a nod. There are just some lines I don't think any author should cross and this was one of them.

Shadow Heir is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 3 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Richelle Mead has an M.A. in Comparative Religion and a passion for all things wacky and humorous. She currently lives in Seattle with her husband, cats, and a closet with too many dresses.

No comments: