Review: Shadow & Thorn by Kenley Davidson

Shadow and Thorn (The Andari Chronicles)

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by Kenley Davidson (Goodreads Author)
I really liked it 4.0/5

A spellbinding romantic fantasy inspired by Beauty and the Beast…

“An exiled king.
An elusive thief.
And the treasure they would give their lives to possess…

Alexei is returning to his homeland after more than twenty years in hiding. His kingdom is destroyed, his people dead or enslaved. His only hope to provide sanctuary for those few who remain is the uncertain word of a traitor, a broken man who claims to know the hiding place of Erath’s greatest treasure. To find it, Alexei will have to return to the place where Erath fell, and brave the shadowed halls of a castle that echoes with the ghosts of his past.

Zara is a woman without a future—a treasure hunter, and a thief who hates to steal. Trapped by fate in an abandoned castle, she encounters a destiny she could never have predicted, and uncovers a treasure far greater than she ever imagined.

When their paths collide, Alexei and Zara may both have a chance to atone for past mistakes… unless they kill each other first. Brought together by enemies both expected and unexpected, they will plumb the depths of an unimaginable betrayal and forge the foundations of a love they would risk anything to keep.

A gripping tale of adventure, betrayal and romance, Shadow and Thorn is the fourth book of the Andari Chronicles, a series of interconnected but stand-alone fairy tale retellings.”-summary from Goodreads

 

An unconventional beauty. A handsome, despicable beast. One who happens to be very familiar—hello, Rowan. We were all waiting for you to show up again. *sharpens guillotine* And a malicious, sentient castle. Intrigued yet? You should be.

Shadow & Thorn is the fourth book in the Andari Chronicles, my favorite fairytale series. Each book is a standalone, with a complete story to tell by itself. However, some elements intertwine throughout them all: a few familiar characters, the same world, and the same time period. I highly recommend reading them in chronological order, just to get familiar with where everything is and what’s going on.

Let’s start with plot, shall we? Kenley Davidson has officially mastered Murphy’s Law in her writing: just about anything that can go wrong, does go wrong. Be still, my aching heart. This author is not a fan of sparing her characters any complicated situations. Oh no—why let them get a break when you could paint them into a corner instead? Oh well. At least it makes for a very nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat novel!

The characters, as always, sparkled with wit, vivacity, and life-likeness. We got to see the return of some familiar faces—Alexei, I’m looking at you—and also the introduction of some new ones. Zara was a real treat. She was so fun to read about! And I couldn’t help grinning with glee when Rowan finally met the one woman who wasn’t ready to fall at his feet! By the way, I am SO glad he finally got what was coming to him. Although I am curious to see what the next book will be about with the way things turned out in this one. I love how Davidson does such a good job of getting inside her character’s heads, and letting us live as them for a little while. Silvay, Wilder, Gulver, and Malichai were great as well, and I really hope they show up in future books, as I would hate for this to be goodbye!

The setting was very well done in this one as well. I loved reading about Erath—or rather, what’s left of it—and the culture the people of Erath embody. I had been very curious about this mythical country since it was mentioned in Traitor’s Masque. The atmosphere Davidson created of ancient magic around the benevolent, though introverted, society worked perfectly for this fairytale. The one caveat is that it wasn’t totally clear how their magic system worked, and I would have liked to learn more about it, but it wasn’t strictly necessary to the plot.

And now for the malicious sentient castle. I couldn’t decide whether this belonged under setting or characters, so I decided to make it its own section. Athven Nar, where most of the plot takes place, is a centuries-old castle that has had magic, hope, and patriotism poured into it for all of its existence. I have only come across this concept maybe twice in all of my reading, and I was very pleased to see how Davidson spun it into the story. I won’t say more for fear of spoiling it all. You’ll just have to read it for yourself.

Shadow & Thorn is a little bit of Diana Wynne Jones, and a little bit of Robin Mckinley, but entirely of Kenley Davidson. Magic, mystery, and love all make this Beauty & the Beast retelling very much worth the read. Bonus points: there was a lot less profanity in this one! Kudos to you, Davidson, for cutting it down. Your readers appreciate it.

Rating: 4 stars

Recommended: 14 and up

Content guide (may contain minor spoilers):

Language: 3/10 (one bad word used 3-5 times)
Violence: 5/10 (some fights and injuries—non-graphic. one character almost dies)
Sexual Content: 2/10 (a few non-detailed kisses)

*Many thanks to the author for providing a copy to review!*

 

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