Grace A. Johnson
Review: Shadow Dance by A. E. Pennymaker
(First things first: Check out that awesome cover!)
#1 This is a long review, so pull up a chair and grab a bowl of popcorn. You'll be here awhile. #2 When I read a review, I want substantial information. So I will not skimp on the details. Which will mean some spoilers, so watch out.
I'm weird about the books I read. I read Christian. Historical. Romance. And that's pretty much it. I'm really picky about that particular genre too. I don't branch out or try new things.
But I did something crazy last month (what? It's only been a month? It feels like a lifetime ago!) and read Shadow Road: Shadows Rising Trilogy: Book 1. It's indie fantasy. I don't read indie. Or fantasy. I made a really nice point about that here.
Since I did that one crazy thing last month, I did another crazy thing this month.
I read an ARC of Shadow Dance.
And now I'm leaving a review.
*whimpers a little bit*
*whispers something under her breath that sounds strangely like "Arramy"*
*sighs for a third time*
*takes in a deep breath*
Back to that review. Wait--you thought those four bold words up there was my review? Ha! You're crazy.
This is my review:
Shadow Dance is amazing. In fact, I'd wager it's better than Shadow Road. Yep. Definitely better. Pennymaker is a consummate storyteller, and if I had to address every single issue authors face, from prose to plot to consistency to character development, she'd get an A-plus on all of them.
The woman is KILLING ME with these bloomin' abrupt endings! I'm just happily plodding along...and then BOOM! There's no more book! I mean, there's an author page and an excerpt from Shadow War, but no more book. And I have to wait until JUNE to read the next one. JUNE! I don't have that kind of patience!!!!!!!!!!
Apart from this wonderful book ending, I only really have two qualms.
#1 They never kissed. I'll say no more. Except, I mean, maybe it's wrong of me to be upset about that, but I'm a hopeless romantic. Keyword: hopeless.
#2 My baby was bad. So, I'll try not to spoil anything, but...yeah. Bad = my baby. I know by now to be ready for anything, and, looking back at my review of Shadow Road, I was ready for this to happen. But still. It hurts. It wasn't really the shock of "how could I have trusted you, you horrible person?!" but more "how did I not see this coming?" Therefore, I more mad at myself than I am at that wonderful character who's name shall not be mentioned for spoiler reasons. They're still my baby.
SD is definitely much darker than its predecessor. The overtones, the undertones, the quite obvious (although not obviously put) trafficking half of everyone is involved in. It'll give you chills--and not the pleasant kind. Especially considering stuff just like that goes on in our world today. I don't read a lot of "dark" fiction, by popular definition, so it's almost jarring for me to go from fluffy romance or even war novels to something as thrilling, suspenseful, and, well, shadowy as the Shadows Rising trilogy.
That being said, it doesn't get much better than this. When you have to tell yourself not to read a book and to at least write a few words in your WIP, you know it's a good book. It's high-stakes on every page, fast-paced all the way through. I had to force myself to put it down! And, yet, with such a good plot and such quick pacing, it's easy to get lost--in the characters and the prose.
But not in Shadow Dance.
Pennymaker keeps Brenorra's voice throughout the entire story, her focus equally divided between all of her characters, the plot, the foreshadowing of what's yet to come, and her beautiful, melodic, almost classical prose.
Speaking of her prose... Have I mentioned that Pennymaker is a terrific writer? She is. She has complete control over every word, every sentence, and every emotion--a quality of which I am envious. Not only do I enjoy reading her books, I enjoy reading her words. Simply amazing.
Long story short, Shadow Dance is one of the best novels I've read all year. Admittedly, I've read quite a bit this year, and pretty much everything has made the "pure-awesome," so maybe that's not saying much. Or maybe it is. A. E. Pennymaker knows how to craft a quality story that keeps you on your toes--with the action and the emotion. I am continually impressed! And also dying to find out what happens next!
I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.