Grace Knox is about to turn seventeen, and the world of Victorian New York society should be opening to her—a time of dances and parties and boys vying for her heart and her hand. Instead, Grace’s world is closing in: the family business is gone; her brother is drinking and gambling away whatever is left; her widowed mother cannot cope; and her grandmother is slipping into madness. And now Grace is having disturbing dreams of ancient battles.
Grace’s only hope is to marry Patrick Devlin and let his fortune save them all. But she isn’t sure she loves Patrick, and she doesn’t share his passion to free Ireland from British rule. Why look to Ireland when there is so much poverty and despair here?
Then Grace meets Diarmid, an Irish stableboy. Being with him means losing everything. But the secrets and mystery surrounding him are too compelling to ignore. Soon Grace is drawn into his world of legend and heroes, magic and prophecy—the world of her dreams—where her own choice between faith and fear holds the greatest power of all.
Rating: 4/5 Stars
The Shadows is an intriguing tale about legends, stories, warriors, and how the past is brought back to life to create a new future. Inevitably, Grace must make a choice in the end, and everything depends on her making the right one.
Grace Knox is trying hard to keep her family supported while her brother seems to do everything in his power to destroy their wealth and status. She does all she can to help her mother, even agree to a debut so she can get married to a wealthy man and be rid of their problems (which she had argued against because she’s a romantic and wants to wed for love). In the beginning, the need to be wed seems to overpower everything else, even the legends and stories and the rebellion. We’re kick-started with a romance that Grace fell into quickly because of how handsome Patrick is, and how much attention he gives her. Then she learned more about him, more about his passions by reading poems he gave her and finding their meaning (she’s intelligent, not vain or look-obsessed as Lucy is) and his life and she fell deeper.
We start realizing things other than the romance however, once Derry makes an appearance. He glows, he’s arrogant, he’s charming, he’s handsome, he’s mysterious, and he’s with Lucy, Grace’s soon-to-be-sister. That doesn’t stop him from wanting to know more about Grace though, and he does a lot to get to know more about her which brings our attention to the stories and magic and how it might all be real, how it might be put together. Magic and the stories long ago told are remembered because of the legends coming true. The fact that Grace plays a part in the coming war means everything to the Fianna (Derry’s merry little group), and they want her on their side.
The world-building was pretty good. The details were mainly focused on characters, emotions, and the legends/stories, but we still had enough detail to create a world in our minds. This world was older, since there’s debuts and marriages at 14, and women in dresses, statuses, wealth, and stable boys who are forbidden to be with wealthy ladies. I felt it was well done.
At times I felt there were certain details put in just to prove Grace is who she is. Her nightmares for example. She can’t understand them and they have little meaning other than a long ago battle. That proves she is who Derry thinks she is, but that’s all they’re good for. Her horn too. It only proved who she was because it had been hers and her blood was on it. She didn’t call the Fianna, but it was held in such high regard. Then the lights and her headaches. I don’t think it was needed. Sure that’s where Derry’s suspicions began to form from, but why wouldn’t she have a headache at all times around him then? Why only at certain times, no matter how much he was in the sun?
The entirety of the novel is how Grace is to be wed, and how Derry may compromise that. Which led to the stories Grace heard all her life becoming more important than ever, and her life being in danger. She has to chose between two sides, and both sides have lied to her. She’s smart, selfless in a way that she’s always thinking about her family, and she’s a character I’ve grown to like, so I rooted for her to make the right choice. And then at the end, things happened, lies were spun, and chaos erupted. A little magic here, a choice there, and a cliffhanger to boot, and I’m definitely left wanting more.
Overall, I did enjoy this book so I’m definitely reading the second one.