After finishing Holly Black's Folk of the Air series, I was looking for another enemies to lovers book (of course). This novel was highly recommended, so I picked it up right away. Note, it's one of those ultra rare YA fantasy standalones!
*This is a spoiler free review.*
Here's the official blurb.
Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:
1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.
No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.
But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?
Shadows Between Us Book Review
Did I enjoy it? Yes.
Would I re-read it? Probably not. For me, this book fell into the enjoyable but over-hyped category.
What I liked:
The protagonist, Alessandra, fell way outside of the "standard YA female protagonist" mold. She's vain, self-centered, ambitious, and NOT afraid to get dirty. Her love interest is also fairly ruthless (though it's mostly off page).
There was a lot of female empowerment. I liked this line in particular, "Waiting. Not waiting. One lover. A hundred lovers. There should be no judgement either way. A woman is not defined by what she does or doesn‘t do in the bedroom.”
The entire premise was really captivating. How far would she go in her task to woo and kill the shadow king? Would she fall in love with him? Would she be held accountable for her previous crime? (Not a spoiler, it's in the first chapter lol)
Lots of fashion descriptions. If you loved how The Selection described every single ballgown in detail, you'll get plenty of that here as Alessandra makes her own garments.
What I didn't like:
The king is cloaked by shadows, which I thought was a really interesting concept. However, they were mostly a plot device. There is very little worldbuilding in this novel--magical or otherwise.
We're told the Shadow King is dangerous, powerful, and the penultimate Slytherin, but we don't see much of it on page.
One of the characters was encouraged to coerce her reluctant male partner into sex which undercut the positive messaging mentioned above.
At times, Alessandra's narration got a little annoying, though I suppose this goes with the territory when your MC is intentionally crafted to be selfish and vain haha
All in all, a quick, fun read for fans of enemies to lovers, royalty, and morally grey protagonists! I hope to see more unique protagonists like Alessandra hitting YA shelves.
This article was written by E.V. Everest.
E.V. Everest is a YA fantasy and sci-fi author, best known for her novel Seven Crowns. Check out more of her work by clicking any of the book covers below.