The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Publishing Info: February 2020 by Feiwel and Friends, Fairyloot Edition
Star Rating: 4/5
Back Cover Summary:
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?
The Shadows Between Us is a standalone fantasy novel and my first introduction to Tricia Levenseller’s writing. I wasn’t sure this book would be for me, but it came in February’s Fairyloot box in the most gorgeous edition, so of course I had to give it a go. It’s described as a Slytherin romance, and I’m very much a Hufflepuff, so that selling point didn’t speak to me personally. But I ended up loving it! It also makes a nice change to read a standalone fantasy, as this genre is so often long series.
Alessandra is such a determined character. Right from the start, we get a sense of her personality. She’s not afraid to be herself and she fights for what she wants. Her eyes are set on the throne, and she’s willing to kill the king to get it. Alessandra also designs and makes her own dresses and the descriptions are divine. She bends the rules of what women can do in this world, and uses her power to change things for the other women of the court too. She’s ambitious and scheming and she stands out from other young adult protagonists for that reason. From that perspective she’s quite an unusual protagonist really. This sort of character is often the antagonist, so I loved seeing a story told through the eyes of a different kind of character.
Kallius is an equally interesting character. He’s not a noble hero. We see him kill a guard for failing to keep watch. He wants to conquer more of the surrounding kingdoms. But since Alessandra isn’t your typical protagonist either, they are very well suited. They’re both ambitious and driven.
The Shadows Between Us was a bit predictable, but there is a twist near the end that I didn’t see coming. The ending itself could have been better. It didn’t leave me with any feeling of ‘wow’ because while the concept of this book is intriguing and daring, the ending is very safe. I’d have liked to have seen a more original ending.
A couple of the subplots were resolved a bit too easily. One in particular is built up over the course of the book but then kind of just gets resolved with a click of the fingers, so to say, which was a bit deflating. There were serious consequences for Alessandra, but the build up for that subplot didn’t really come to much.
It’s fairly light on the world building for a fantasy novel. But since the focus is more on the romance and the characters, I didn’t mind too much. And to be honest it did make a change of pace to not be wading through complex world building (as much as I do love fantasy with big, well-built worlds).
This book definitely falls into the fantasy romance category, with the focus very much on the romance element with some court intrigue too. So if you’re after a quick, fantasy read with a bold, ambitious female lead and an intriguing, shadowy love interest, I’d recommend The Shadows Between Us.