Friday, March 11, 2016

Review & ARC Giveaway: Shadow Magic by Joshua Khan

Thorn, an outlaw's son, wasn't supposed to be a slave. He never should have run away from home, leaving his mother and siblings to fend for themselves. Now he's been sold to Tyburn, an executioner, and they're headed to Castle Gloom in Gehenna, the land of undead, where Thorn will probably be fed to a vampire.

Lilith Shadow wasn't supposed to be ruler of Gehenna. But on the terrible day her father, mother, and brother were killed, young Lily became the last surviving member of House Shadow, a long line of dark sorcerers. Her country is surrounded by enemies and the only way she can save it is by embracing her heritage and practicing the magic of the undead. But how can she when, as a girl, magic is forbidden to her?

Just when it looks like Lily will have to leave her home forever, Thorn arrives at Castle Gloom. A sudden death brings them together, inspires them to break the rules, and leads them to soar to new heights in this fantasy with all the sparkle and luster of a starry night sky.

Title: Shadow Magic 
Author: Joshua Khan
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication date: April 12th, 2016

Rating: 4 Stars

I received a free copy of this book from the author and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 For those of you that love fantasy and middle grade books, I have the pleasure of introducing you to a new story by Joshua Khan. It's a story that embraces the shadows, the power of one's will, and the strength needed to forge your own path.

The story begins with Thorn, our introduction to this world. Having run away from a terrible mistake and trying to make amends, he finds himself a slave. He's a strong willed character, a good hero even at his age which I think was 12-14. He's relateable to the age group and has notions that, if a child reading this book doesn't have, will make him wish he did. Thorn finds himself adventure, even if that wasn't what he intended when he left home.

Lilith, or Lily, Shadow is a relateable character. She's stuck in a position that she was not meant for, ill equipped to deal with it simply because she's a girl. Does she let that stop her? Not on her life! She's thirteen so there is some residual childish stubbornness, but that serves her well in a kingdom where magic is forbidden to a girl. What I liked about Lily is that she never wavered in her conviction to do right by her people, even if it meant breaking a very serious law.

My favorite "side" character was Hades, the fierce bat shown on the front cover. Never mind wanting a pony, I want an epic mount in the form of a near immortal bat! He's loyal and he does have a rather vicious appetite, but he forms a quick and sure loyalty to his new master.

Which brings me to the speculative part of the review. I was left with a lot of questions about some of the characters when I was finished. One of the things that I hope is explored in further books is whether or not Thorn has some sort of magic of his own. It is stated within the books that magic has become rather weak over the centuries and we see this demonstrated with a few characters, namely Gabriel, the heir to Lumina.

Thorn has a few episodes in the book where I wonder if his family has some sort of magic in their blood. He seems to be able to communicate with animals on a level that others can't, like Hades for example. He stumbles upon this ancient creature, awakens it from its slumber, and becomes its new master with relative ease. Everyone is shocked when he's able to ride an enormous horse that belongs to Tyburn (the man who rescued/bought him from a slaver), a horse that would typically react violently to being ridden by anyone else. These two events lead me to think that there is a lot more to this poor boy than meets the eye.

Lily is another mystery that I hope to get more clues to in future books. She is forbidden from practicing magic, but by the end of the story things are starting to work in her favor and she may or may not be on her way to becoming a powerful sorcerer. Will this happen? Will the potential teacher hinted at be as bright a light for her as it seems?

There were only a couple of reasons that I did not rate this book five stars. There were a couple times when the story seemed to lag a little, though these moments were few and picked up relatively quickly. The art in the book is lovely and haunting, being drawn in thick, bold lines. The problem with them is that they conflicted with the scene that they were meant to be portraying. Even something as simple as Lily's hair being described one way and being drawn another. It might not seem like a lot, but if you're going to have illustrations to guide the reader's imagination, they need to be accurate to the text.

In the end, I would highly recommend this to anyone that likes fantasy adventures where the children are fierce, strong willed, and determined to find the path to their own destiny, regardless of whether others think they should be quiet and marry themselves off to a "good king" (Lily) or be thankful for what they have and not ask for more (Thorn).

ARC Giveaway

This is the super exciting part of the post. I have for the lucky winner one (1) copy of Shadow Magic by Joshua Khan. Check out the Rafflecopter below and enter for a chance to experience the world of Gehenna for yourself. The giveaway will run from the 12th to the 19th. I will announce the winner early the following week.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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1 comment:

  1. Ooh, I hadn't heard of this one before!! And it sounds AMAZING. I do like a good MG fantasy...and tbh, I want a flying bat now too? I mean, I want a dragon MORE, but a flying bat would be a good second option. *nods*
    (Is the giveaway international? If not, just ignore my entries. :P)