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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Join the book tour for The Solitary King!

Want to help me spread the word about The Solitary King, and get a FREE copy of The Fair Queen as a thank you gift?

Of course you do!

I’m so excited to announce that the Winter Woods Book Club will be hosting a book tour for TSK during release week, and YOU can get involved!

If you’re willing to share posts on your blog or social media between 24 and 31 January, then click below to sign up and you’ll be sent graphics and a prewritten caption (or you can create your own!) in time to spread the love for The Fair Chronicles before The Solitary King‘s release.

https://winterwoodsbookclub.wordpress.com/current-opportunities-to-join-in/


I can’t wait to announce the preorder giveaway for TSK really soon! Keep your eyes peeled for a very exciting announcement here and on Instagram.

Lyndsey

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Happy release day to Enchanted Waters!

The big day has finally arrived, Enchanted Waters is out now, winging its way to kindles all over the world. Beautifully illustrated paperbacks are dropping onto doormats from Canada to Estonia, and everywhere in between and beyond.

This release has surpassed by far any of our wildest dreams, and we have you to thank for that. To everyone who preordered the ebook or bought the paperback, who liked and shared our social media posts, who included EW in their newsletters and reviewed it on your blogs, who told friends and family, or even just bought it to help support Oceana and the charitable initiative.

Thank you, from the bottoms of our hearts and the depths of our souls. You’ve made this release a huge success, and helped us raise hundreds of pounds (or dollars, euros, whatever!) for ocean conservation.

I’ve had the most incredible experience working alongside these amazing writers and humans for the past year, it’s made my debut year as an indie author everything I hoped it would be and so much more. So my thanks also go to Alice Ivinya, Astrid V.J., Jennifer Kropf, N.D.T. Casale, Elena Shelest, Sky Sommers and Ben Lang. Thank you for being the best coauthors a girl could ask for.


If you haven’t decided whether Enchanted Waters is your cup of tea yet, here’s the blurb and the stories included:

What really lies beneath the waves?

Dive into our magical collection of short stories written by award-winning and up-and-coming authors and follow the ocean’s call. Meet murderous kelpies, hear the mermaid’s song, find a kidnapped prince, and explore the beautiful underwater kingdoms. Befriend selkie royalty, break fearsome curses, and swoon as you fall in love. This book is fully illustrated with stunning paintings by Helena Satterthwaite and Elena Shelest.

All profits go to Oceana to support their mission to protect the world’s oceans and promote sustainable fishing.

Stories include:
Daughter of the Selkie King – Lyndsey Hall (that’s me!)
Merrily Merrily – Jennifer Kropf
The Kelpie of Loch Linnhe – Alice Ivinya
The Bridge – Ben Lang
Kiss the Frog – Sky Sommers
Sea Ghost of the Isle – N.D.T. Casale
The Naiad’s Curse – Astrid V.J.
The Arctic Mermaid – N.D.T. Casale
Heartless Melody – Alice Ivinya
The Wishing Well – Elena Shelest

Ready to dive in? Click here to go to your local Amazon store and get the ebook or paperback of Enchanted Waters now.

Happy reading friends!

Lyndsey

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