Review: Of Shadow and Ember by Shana Vernon

I’ve been waiting forever (OK, two weeks) to be able to fangirl over this book with you all. I was lucky enough to get an advance copy, and I’d already preordered it because it sounded amazing, but now I’m going to need it in paperback too so I can admire it on my shelf on a daily basis.

I interviewed the author, Shana Vernon, last week, so when you’re done reading this review pop over and have a read about Shana’s other books and the upcoming sequel!

Right, let’s get into it.

Review

Title: Of Shadow and Ember (The Heirs of Elaerys #1)

Author: Shana Vernon

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Ember-Heirs-Elaerys-Book-ebook/dp/B092TF6196/

Rating: 5/5


Where do I start? This book had my jaw on the floor at several moments, and kept my pulse racing from start to finish, whether it was a fierce action scene, a steamy sex scene or a shocking plot twist. I read Of Shadow and Ember quicker than any other book this year, I just couldn’t put it down!

The story follows three sisters, heiresses to a desert kingdom, as they each face the very different expectations of being a princess. Calida is the eldest and heir to the throne, with all of the responsibilities that entails. Zari is the spare and lives a life of luxury and boredom while waiting to see if she’ll be needed. Arianna is the youngest and has been trained as Sentinel, the kingdom’s secret assassin who takes care of any threat under cover of darkness, so as not to spark war.

The kingdom of Kalamia is in a precarious position and in order to sign peace treaties with its neighbours, the two younger daughters are to be sent away to marry foreign heirs. But moments after Arianna – the only one trained for battle – has left, the kingdom is invaded by brutal fae from a kingdom long forgotten, the home of beasts that are responsible for the murder of Arianna’s lover years earlier and whom she’s on a warpath to seek revenge against. Except, she’s on the other side of the world with no idea what’s happening at home, while her sisters try to save their kingdom.

I loved all three of the sisters, but Arianna definitely became my favourite, with her total self-confidence and strong sense of what’s right and wrong. She also had a wicked sense of humour and was a complete badass. The story is told from several POVs, including Arianna’s new mate and one of the brutes who invaded the kingdom of Kalamia (although everything is not as it seems and there are secrets and truths that we discover through his internal monologue).

When I first saw the contents page with several names, I was a little worried I wouldn’t be able to keep track of who was who, but the author was able to set the scene in each change of POV so quickly and smoothly that I never found myself struggling to keep up. Even though the story was one of the most fast-paced I’ve read in ages. It swept me away and kept me turning the pages until the very last one, desperate to know what happened next in each POV.

There wasn’t one POV that I found boring or didn’t want to see at the top of the next chapter. If I had to choose a least favourite it would probably be Calida’s, but that’s only because being kept prisoner in your own castle isn’t quite as exciting as adventuring on the high seas or being far from home in a kingdom with completely different values as you search for information on the beast that killed your lover – whilst also slowly falling for the man you’ve been sent to marry, despite his reputation as the Scourge of Vale.

The world building was fantastic, I loved discovering more about each place and the people who inhabited it, and the romance was a real slow burn in one case, and a sort of ‘fated mates’ irrepressible collision in another. The steamy scenes all took place after the 75% mark, which I really appreciated as I prefer to see the build up of tension towards a love scene, it feels more credible to me – there’s definitely no insta-love here!

I highly, HIGHLY recommend this book if you like any of the following:

  • fae,
  • elemental magic,
  • strong women (not just physically strong, these sisters are three very different types of strong),
  • winged fae males,
  • sexy shifters,
  • arranged marriage,
  • fated mates,
  • sass, snark and banter,
  • incredible world-building,
  • excellent character development,
  • a complex, fast-moving plot with lots of action,
  • steamy romance with actual meaning,
  • CLIFFHANGERS. Because I’m still reeling from that last chapter!!

It’s perfect for fans of Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood, or anything by Sarah J. Maas really, and Jennifer L. Armentrout. Can book two be out now please??

Happy release day to Of Shadow and Ember! Buy your copy now, and then preorder book two, Of Earth and Bone, coming March 2022!

Lyndsey

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The Solitary King, The Fair Chronicles #2 cover reveal!

The day is finally here, I’m so excited to share the cover of book two in The Fair Chronicles with you.

Introducing the cover of The Solitary King!

Blurb

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…

When Aria returns to the Fair Realm to attend a ball at the Salamander castle, it isn’t long before things take a turn for the deadly.

With her father’s home in ashes and her newfound family reduced to dust, Aria finds herself King Auberon’s captive once more. Deep within the mountains that border the Celeste Kingdom, Aria is powerless to fight back, her newly-discovered abilities suppressed by the weight of the rock that surrounds her. But when a Celeste guard whispers about rebellion and promises to help her escape, Aria is desperate to trust him.

Crown Prince Xander returns home to the Gnome castle, laden with grief for his brother and father, and dreading the day he will be crowned king. Preparations are underway for his marriage and coronation, but thoughts of the girl he betrayed trouble him day and night. Until the morning of his wedding, when a note arrives that Aria has been taken by Auberon once more, and Xander is forced to choose between his life of duty and obedience, and what he believes is right.

Return to the Fair Realm and lose yourself in book two of The Fair Chronicles. Perfect for fans of Holly Black’s Folk of the Air series.


The Solitary King follows both Aria and Xander as they try to come to terms with the events of The Fair Queen, whilst also facing new threats and growing tension between the Five Kingdoms. Can Aria ever forgive Xander for his betrayal, and will he be able to protect her from the forces that wish to prevent the prophecy of the legendary Fair Queen coming true?

Preorder it now for just 99c/77p and find out on 31 January 2022!

Paperback and hardcover versions will be available from release day, and an audio book will be coming later in 2022!

Lyndsey

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PS. Not read The Fair Queen yet? Click here to get your copy now!

Cover reveal: Once Upon a Name anthology

I’m so excited to share the gorgeous cover of one of my 2022 projects with you today!

Once Upon a Name is a collection of fantasy short stories by twenty authors who decided to get together and take on the challenge of an online fairy tale name generator.

All profits from the sale of Once Upon a Name will go to Book Aid International, the UK’s leading international book donation and library development charity.

Are you ready to see the cover?

Blurb

What’s in a name? Names have power, names have magic, names can set the course for a great destiny.
Once upon a time, twenty author friends accepted a challenge by a fairy tale name generator. Now, twenty new characters have adventurous tales to tell.
In this clean YA anthology, meet goddesses, empresses, countesses, wannabe sorceress apprentices, female leaders of wolf packs, and guardian frog sidekicks. Search for missing persons with a hunter turned detective. Swoon over the gypsy sultana who must prove she is fit to rule. Cavort with our demons, wraiths, and demigods and lose your soul to the Bone Marsh. Root for a genie’s freedom or bite your nails as you pray for the witch to get the spell right. And yes, feel your heart palpitate at unexpected romance.
Escape into our strange and unusual collection of short stories written by award-winning and up-and-coming authors. Join us in far-off lands and learn. . .what is in a name.

All proceeds donated to charity in support of reading and literacy.

Add it to your Goodreads TBR.

Preorder for just 99c/77p for a limited time!

My story is called Baroness of Blood and Bone and features Tullia Artfulbeau, Baroness of the Northern Wolves. It’s a short urban fantasy focusing on a pack of wolf shifters with a female alpha.

I can’t wait to tell you more about my story soon, and the other nineteen incredible tales by my fellow bestselling and debut authors.

Lyndsey

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