Book Review : The Shadows Between Us

Book Review : The Shadows Between UsThe Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller
on February 25th 2020
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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 was a quick, light read that was a lot of fun. I was immediately sucked into it by the introduction, which included main character Alessandra Stathos proclaiming that she murdered the first boy she loved because he broke her heart. If that weren’t stunning enough, she then states that she will seduce the Shadow King, after her sister failed to catch his eye, marry him, murder him, and then take his kingdom for her own. Color me captivated.


I was both horrified and impressed by Alessandra’s cunning and confidence. I had a lot of fun watching her somewhat devious plans unfold. However, I could see other people easily disliking or even hating her, as she is quite shallow, despite having a great head for planning and strategy. The Shadow King is not much better. He’s not unlikable, but he’s not certainly not the most likeable male lead I’ve ever read. I enjoyed that he didn’t mind if his people didn’t like him, and that he was motivated to conquer the entire world. Clearly these two were a match made in heaven, and I can see why the book was marketed as a “Slytherin romance,” as the two of them are ambitious and a little willing to step on other people to get what they want. Were either of them Bellatrix Lestrange level of Slytherin? Sadly, no. 


I don’t know what I’m doing anymore. But I do know one thing. No one but me is allowed to decide when Kallias Maheras, king of six realms and counting, is going to die.


Unfortunately, Alessandra never quite gets around to murdering the Shadow King, as she falls for him. Though I enjoyed their romance, I couldn’t help but to be disappointed on some level. I was quite enchanted by the idea of reading about an anti-heroine/murderess taking over the world. As much as a planner as Alessandra is, it somehow never occurs to her until the very end of The Shadows Between Us that she can just marry the king she loves and share power and partnership, instead of murdering him. 


I handled Hektor as I have handled everything else in my life: alone and with the utmost thoroughness.


Instead of the murdering, conniving female lead I wanted, what readers are given is a mix between an empowered woman, a planner, and someone who is astoundingly lacking in the common sense department. I was shocked after Alessandra’s many claims that no one would find that body of her first lover, at how dumb she was at actually hiding the evidence of her murder. She literally buries the man in a chest with her initials on it, is known to be out at all hours of the night and to carry a dagger on her person at all times. So not only does she not have an alibi, but has practically stamped her name on the corpse. It’s as if The Shadows Between Us couldn’t decide if it wanted her to be a mastermind or a bumbling idiot motivated only by her passions. 


The poets can say whatever they damned like. A woman’s worth is not decided by what’s between her legs but by what is in her mind.


And Alessandra is woefully moved by her passions. Her own sister, who is quite frankly rude and condescending refers to her as a trollop on several occasions. The Shadows Between Us dedicates several pages to Alessandra’s belief that women should have equal rights as men. She is a stern believer that she should not have to remain a virgin for marriage, shouldn’t have to wait to debut in society until after her older sister is married, and lots of other progressive things. Even as a feminist, I cringed at this blunt, repetitive, and out of place agenda. It certainly didn’t help her point that all of the female characters (and the male ones, for that matter) were extremely flat either. I struggled to keep Alessandra’s two best friends straight, as they had very few defining features or complexities. 


The world-building was similarly non-existent. Sure, we hear about all of these other kingdoms that The Shadow King has conquered and a bit about their fashions, of all things, due to Alessandra’s interests, but not much else. So really the focus is all on the lackluster characters, the romance between the leads, and on assassination attempts on the Shadow King (not at Alessandra’s hands) and the mystery surrounding his parent’s murders. I managed to figure out the mystery pretty early on, so it was fairly well-planned out. 


I was most disappointed at how little time was spent on the fact that the Shadow King is made of, well shadows. I think there are two paragraphs dedicated to how his family line was granted this “gift” of immortality and shadows. And predictably, it was due to a View Spoiler » There wasn’t really anything new to it. 


Ultimately, The Shadows in Between Us is a light read, focusing on romance, with a few fantasy elements for those that squint. There is not a whole lot of substance to the novel, but I did enjoy the fluff and found it pretty entertaining, almost despite itself. In fact, I read The Shadows Between Us  in one sitting. If you’re looking for a light and fluffy romance, this is the perfect novel. If you were hoping to read dark fantasy with complex characters, brilliant plans, and fantastical world-building,  look elsewhere.  

Book Review : The Shadows Between Us - Blogging with Dragons

Posted May 2, 2021 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, Young Adult


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