Of Silver and Shadow by Jennifer Gruenke
Releases: February 16, 2021
This was such an exciting fantasy read, I couldn't put it down.
Gruenke creates a fantastic world, reminding me more than a little of Leigh Bardugo's Ketterdam, filled with magic, rebels, and a cast of characters you want to see through to the end. While there are some things I would have seen done differently, I think overall this was a great escape into the world of Erdis.
But first, a summary:
In the kingdom of Erdis, being a silver wielder is a dangerous thing to be. With only the royals allowed to possess magic, the kingdom was eradicated of wielders and fear spread throughout the kingdom. But, Ren Kolins still has her magic. And when the rebel leaders show up asking for her help, Ren joins them--for the right price, of course. With the King's Children, a harrowing group of young men and women expertly trained to kill first and ask questions later in honor of the king, breathing down the rebel's backs, Ren and the rebels must figure out how to overthrow the king and reclaim the kingdom for their own.
Originally, this was supposed to come out earlier, so since it has been pushed back to the beginning of next year, here's a very early review!
To start, I loved that the magic system was simple and fresh, definitely a different direction than most magic systems I read nowadays take in fantasy. Don't get me wrong, I love crazy magic systems that are intricate and different, but it was refreshing to read about a simple magic system again. Although it was simple, I wish we could have had more of it and really had an understanding of it. Perhaps, learning more of the past of the silver wielders or the other kingdoms that still have magic would have been beneficial. Hopefully, if there are more books, we'll get to learn more.
There are a lot of POVs in this book, which I enjoyed, but if you're not a fan of an array of views, know to accept reading through the eyes of quite a few characters. Thankfully, Gruenke does an excellent job of characterizing her creations, which can be hard with such a large number of players.
I loved the enemies-to-lovers trope, even if it was a little obvious. Darek, our young rebel leader, was a little too angry at Ren straight from the get-go so I was fairly certain where there relationship would go, but I appreciated the twists and turns along the way. I was still rooting for them throughout the book! I think the author did a nice job of toeing the line with their jabs and insults, but not making them cross to unforgivable pastures.
They aren't the only one toeing a line, though.
It was interesting to see the characters toeing the line of morality throughout the book. Morally gray characters are really popular, and while I wouldn't go as far to say Ren or the gang fall into that category, they do grapple with how far they're willing to go for what they believe is right or wrong. Lies, withholding information to make sure people go along with plans, torturing or killing in order to escape a life of death--the characters face a lot of moral dilemmas throughout the book, each of them traversing it differently.
While not the main or biggest storyline, family and friendship run through the bones of the story. I think that's really important to showcase.
Other than that, I think the book ends a little abruptly, so if there's not a second book I'll be super disappointed, but I do think she leaves off in a well enough place to make it work. But, it would do much better with a second book.
The end takes a turn, so I liked that the author was able to surprise me to the end!
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and highly suggest it for lovers of fantasy!