Son of the Shadows: Emotionally engaging

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsJuliet Marillier Sevenwaters trilogy Son of the ShadowsSon of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier

With this novel, Juliet Marillier returns to the Celtic world of her first novel, the fantastic Daughter of the Forest, about eighteen years later. Sorcha and Hugh have lived happily together, and have three children, Niamh, Sean, and Liadan. Niamh is a restless beauty with a case of wanderlust; Sean is a future leader growing up in his uncle Liam’s mold; and Liadan is her mother’s successor, a storyteller and healer. But Liadan is not Sorcha; having grown up in a loving environment, Liadan is well-aware of her own worth, and acts with more confidence and defiance than Sorcha did. In some ways I like Liadan better; in some ways I prefer Sorcha. But both are ever engaging.

The “son of the shadows” of the title is Ciaran, a young druid who falls in star-crossed love with Niamh. (Now, those of you who have read Daughter of the Forest know there is a problem with this!) Ciaran strikes off on his own after Niamh is forbidden to him; he is torn between love and honor, and between the disciplined magic of the druids and the darker sorcery inherited from his mother. I am very interested in what happens to him, and to Niamh; I just hope Marillier deals with them in book three, as they are almost peripheral to this book, despite the title. This is Liadan’s story.

Liadan thinks she knows exactly what kind of life lies before her, until she falls in love with the leader of an outlaw band. She spends the rest of the book using magic, wit, and courage to try and keep her family and her lover from killing one another — a Herculanean task — while also rebelling against the Fair Folk’s desire to use her as a pawn in their plots. This is the biggest difference between Sorcha and Liadan; Liadan never seems to obey anyone if she can help it. Sorcha was more willing to submit to the Fair Folk’s plans.

Son of the Shadows is a well-written and emotionally engaging story. It feels bloodier and less magical than Daughter of the Forest, but it’s pretty good anyway, and even as it ends, we feel the storms brewing that will need to be dealt with in Child of the Prophecy. This story ain’t over yet, not by a long shot. I eagerly await the third book, and the final resolution to all this turmoil.

Sevenwaters — (2000-2012) Publisher: Lovely Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives, they are determined that she know only contentment. But Sorcha’s joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, a spell which only Sorcha can lift — by staying silent. If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever. When Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken to a foreign land, she is torn between the desire to save her beloved brothers, and a love that comes only once. Sorcha despairs at ever being able to complete her task, but the magic of the Fair Folk knows no boundaries, and love is the strongest magic of them all…

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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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