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.


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

Author: Shana Vernon


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!



Interview: urban and steamy high fantasy author Shana Vernon

Hello lovely folks, I’ve got a real treat for you today! I had the immense privilege of interviewing the incredible Shana Vernon, author of The Hybrid Chronicles.

I recently read an early copy of Shana’s new release Of Shadow and Ember, and it’s my favourite book of the year so far (a review is coming soon). So let’s see what Shana had to say when we chatted!

Hi Shana, it’s so lovely to have you with us! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am originally from Baltimore Maryland, USA, but I moved to Israel at nineteen years old. I love to travel around the world, cook and eat delicious food, create and write new worlds, read, drink wine, and play with my twenty-one-month-old triplets and our frenchie, Lola. 

We could be best friends, because those are all my favourite things! Say hi to Lola for me!! So, when did you start writing?

I’ve been writing since I was about twelve, but I only took it more seriously during my pregnancy when I was stuck on bedrest. Two years later, I have three books and one novella published, with another on the way!

Wow, that’s an incredible achievement in just two years. And especially when I know that your pregnancy was with triplets who are now eighteen months old! I’ve got one 3.5 years old, so I can only imagine the fun and chaos of having three baby boys to deal with. What’s your favourite genre to read and write?


Me too! And your favourite tropes?

  • Found family
  • Enemies to lovers
  • Slow burn romance
  • Kick-Ass heroines

Those are definitely some of my faves too, especially enemies to lovers. But I have to admit, I’m a sucker for royalty and the chosen one trope. Tell us about your upcoming release.

My newest release, Of Shadow and Ember, is now available for pre-order and comes out 15 September, and everyone who orders will get two freebies!! 

Claim your preorder goodies here: 

Add it to your TBR on Goodreads.

Awesome, I can’t wait to see what the preorder goodies are! I loved the book and found the world building incredible. Where do you find inspiration for your characters or settings? 

Each kingdom in Elaerys has a unique magic system and culture that were inspired by different lore and legends. Kalamia was inspired a bit by my own ancestry. 

When I originally began outlining and writing OSAE, there was only one main character. After the story started, I really fell in love with the other two sisters and made them both MCs as well. 

I really enjoyed seeing inside all three sisters’ heads, I think it made the story more three-dimensional and layered. You’ve made me want to write a multi-POV story next! Do you consider yourself a plotter, pantser or plantser? 

Hard core plotter. I outline the entire book, including the characters, before I even start writing. 

I’m a big plotter too, although I do leave room to find my way, but I need a chapter by chapter breakdown to keep me on the right track. What are you working on right now?

I just got started working on two different WIPs. One is the second book in the “Heirs of Elaerys’ series, and the first in a new urban fantasy series. 

I’m so excited for the second Heirs of Elaerys book! What one piece of advice would you give aspiring authors? 

Don’t give up. Just keep writing – sung in the ‘Just keep swimming’ tune. 

Perfect, thank you so much for chatting with me today! It’s been an honour. Before you go, how can we find out more about you and your books? 

Shana’s website:

Sign up to Shana’s email newsletter: 

Follow her on Instagram: 

Join Shana’s Facebook group: 

Shana will also be featured in the upcoming anthology, Season of the Witch!

I cannot recommend Of Shadow and Ember highly enough, and I’ll be impatiently waiting for book two, Of Earth and Bone, until March 2022 when it comes out. I’m definitely adding the Hybrid Chronicles to my TBR! How about you? Which of Shana’s books are you reading first?



Interview: debut fantasy author Elena Carter

Another month is almost over and we’re now much closer to next Christmas than last. That’s right I used the C word in July! Speaking of which, have you seen any of the “Christmas in July” bookish events going on around the internet? @SheShedStudios on Twitter is hosting a feature with some fab free books (she included The Fair Queen when it was free a couple of weeks ago), and Jennifer Kropf, author of the Winter Souls series, is throwing a huge book tour across the internet for her festive, family-friendly fantasy series in celebration of book two being out this November and available to preorder now!

OK, that’s enough talk of Christmas, back to the height of summer. Next week is my birthday! I’m hosting a Facebook Hop between 5 and 7 Aug to celebrate, with prizes for both UK and international winners. One UK winner will get a signed hardcover of The Fair Queen and a signed (by both me and my fellow author Alice Ivinya) paperback of Enchanted Waters, and one US/international winner will get a whole bundle of fantasy ebooks and a $10 Amazon giftcard! So head over to the FB group and join to take part next week.

On to the interview! I was so excited to chat to Elena Carter this week and find out all about her debut novel, Follow the Hummingbird, which comes out 30 July and is the first book in a new series, The Dream Tamer Chronicles. Read on to find out what we talked about…

Thanks so much for chatting with me, Elena! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Elena. I am originally from Almaty, Kazakhstan, but in 2013 I moved to Varna, Bulgaria to live by the sea. Growing up in a city surrounded by mountains, I have always been dreaming of big water (which is ironic because I am not much of a swimmer, yet I can’t live without water.) 

For the last decade or so I’ve been making gemstone jewelry — after exploring all kinds of career paths, including administering a high school exchange program, working in an embassy as a political and human rights assistant, working as an assistant to an attorney, and many other totally unrelated things too. All while secretly dreaming of being a writer.

I have a husband and two sons, a teenager and a toddler. We also have a cavalier king charles spaniel and possibly the naughtiest cat in the world.

Wow, what a fascinating and varied life you’ve led so far! I bet you’re not short of inspiration when it comes to writing stories, you’ve got so many experiences to draw from. When did you start writing and what inspired you/who encouraged you?

I have always wanted to be a writer, but I guess I never had enough courage and self-belief. Until 2020, when my husband (a professional writer and screenwriter himself) finally convinced me to give it a try, after countless nudges that I used to skillfully dodge. And I’m so grateful for his persistence.

I used to say “If I ever do try, certainly it won’t be in English, because it’s my second language, and I’ll never be good enough.” 

But here I am, releasing my debut novel in English, and I am so happy I found the courage to go ahead and do it. 

I was 41 when I wrote my first book. It’s never too late to start.

That’s incredible that you’re writing your debut in a language other than you’re native one, I studied Spanish at University but I can’t imagine writing an entire novel in Spanish. You’re so inspiring! Do you have a favourite book or genre?

I have always loved reading. I started reading early, about 4 years old, and when I was 10 or 12, I started consuming everything I could find in our (very extensive) home library. I have always been fascinated by our bookshelves covering the entire walls, from floor to ceiling.

I read pretty much everything, I don’t like to limit myself to a certain genre. But fantasy has always been my favorite. I discovered Tolkien in my early university years I think, and it totally blew my mind. 

There are also some Russian fantasy authors that I have always enjoyed reading. 

Basically, I like to believe that magic exists, and the world around is not at all what we believe it is.

Excuse me, you had me at “floor to ceiling bookshelves”. I’m so jealous, it sounds like a book lovers’ dream. Tell us about your upcoming debut novel.

My debut novel, Follow the Hummingbird, is coming out on July 30, 2021. It’s about a young woman discovering the world of her dreams after she’s been trying to find ways to cope with grief having lost her husband in a car accident. She learns about the existence of multiple different worlds that are ready to open their doors to her, and, most importantly, give her hope and strength to go on.

That’s a really beautiful message, it sounds wonderful. Where did you find the inspiration for your story?

Dreams have always been a very important part of my life. They’ve always been vivid and fascinating, leaving me with a feeling that they are much more than what we think they are. 

A lot of the dream sequences in my book have been inspired by the dreams I’ve had, including some I had many years ago. It’s strange, I can easily forget what I’ve been doing last week or month (let alone the names of my former colleagues or high school teachers), but the memories of some of my childhood dreams are bright and clear in my mind.

That’s so cool, I love when story ideas come in dreams! Would you say you’re a plotter, pantser or plantser?

Plantser. When I started working on Follow the Hummingbird, I had a rough outline of the idea that I quickly put down in the notes on my phone. For the rest, the story itself was leading me, new characters were appearing and asking me to write about them, fascinating worlds were revealing themselves to me, and it was a beautiful and exciting journey. 

I’m the same, I need a map to follow to where the story is headed, but I like to leave a little room to take the scenic route. So, what are you working on right now?

In the beginning of the year, while still working on edits for my novel, I started writing a collection of short stories. They’re all separate stories and totally unrelated, except the one thing they have in common – they’re all happening in the same town. A very ordinary little town, at first glance. But when you look and listen closer, you might learn that it’s not that ordinary after all. There’s all kinds of wonderful and amazing and magical things happening to its inhabitants and guests.

I am also starting to work on the next book in The Dream Tamer Chronicles, telling a story of one of the characters in Follow the Hummingbird.

I love short story collections! I’m writing one myself at the moment, set in the same world as my main series, The Fair Chronicles. What one piece of advice would you give aspiring authors?

Don’t fear. Don’t doubt yourself. And never — NEVER — give up. There’ll be good days and bad days, there’ll be ups and downs, it’s all a crazy roller coaster sometimes (okay, let’s be honest, most of the time), but just stay consistent and stay on track no matter what.

Also, you have to believe in your writing in the first place. If you don’t, no one else will.

That is such great advice, it’s so important to believe in yourself first, and be your own biggest cheerleader. Thank you so much for chatting with me today, it’s been lovely! Before you go, how can we find out more about you and your books?


Newsletter signup:


Facebook page/group:

Check out Follow the Hummingbird of Amazon:

And add it to your Goodreads shelf:

I hope all of you fellow writers listen to Elena’s advice – believe in yourself and never give up! And if you like the sound of Follow the Hummingbird, it comes out on 30 July so there’s not long to wait now.

Happy Christmas in July guys!