Book Title: The Shadow Gate
Author: L.L. MacRae
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Full disclosure: I read this book as it was written, and I'm friends with the author, but my review is fair and all thoughts are my own. I bought it for my collection. My other half will be getting the audiobook.
Goodreads, Amazon UK
Plot: Opening the shadow gate is the only way Fenn’s memories can be restored—and with them, his life and family.
It could also destroy the world.Guided by dragon spirit Hassen and manipulated by the Myr, Fenn fights the corruption spreading through Tassar—and himself—in an attempt to find his family. Separated from his allies and unable to trust even his own mind, the arduous journey takes its toll.Far from home and reunited with her sister, Calidra battles to keep her loved ones safe. But when the fickle loyalties of dragon spirits shifts, and darkness lurks around every corner, running from her fears is no longer an option.
And in the far south, consequences of the past catch up with those fighting for their freedom.
Read my review of the first book, The Iron Crown, here.
What did I think?I can confidently say that this book does not suffer from middle book syndrome. It's better than The Iron Crown. I won't talk too much about the actual plot because it's a sequel, but I do have a few thoughts about some of these characters.
Firstly, they really get to grow, especially Torsten and Calidra. Secondly, we get to know them better, especially Selys, who I originally wasn't that interested in, and Jisyel.
I was a fan of Torsten in the first book already, but here he really stands out to me as a morally grey, conflicted person, who is trying to be dutiful, but also cares so very much about his brother, a dying dragon spirit.
Calidra, on the other hand, must learn that she cannot control everything, and that sometimes it's better to let go. I adore the way MacRae explores the dynamic between the two estranged siblings who both grew up with an abusive mother. They carry a lot of emotional baggage, and I love them to bits.
And then there's Fenn. Fenn, my dear, Fenn. I wanted to smack the man, but bless him, he tries, unaware just how much he's fumbling around in the dark.
In The Iron Crown we meet a handful of powerful dragon spirits. Some are mischievous, some are more powerful than others, some are not what I would call pleasant, others are entirely benevolent.
Epic dragon battles? Yes, please.
MacRae's writing is fantastic and has evolved even more. I love watching an author grow. She has a strong and distinct voice and the ability to seamlessly weave her world-building into action in order to avoid info dumps.
Overall, The Shadow Gate is an exciting sequel to The Iron Crown, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys epic fantasy with rich world-building, complex characters, and of course, dragons.
MacRae has once again delivered a thrilling and engaging adventure, and I can't wait to see where the series goes next.