Shadow Magic, by Joshua Khan

Shadow Magic, by Joshua Khan
This book was provided for free by Disney Press through NetGalley
in exchange for a fair and honest review
While on a quest to find his father, Thorn is caught by slavers and sold to the executioner of Gehenna – a land where darkness and death are highly revered. There, he meets Lilith Shadow, the ruler of Gehenna, who, through ill-wrought diplomacy to end a war, is being forced to marry a disgusting, sniveling, bully of a prince. Meanwhile, an evil necromancer is haunting Gehenna, threatening everything Lilith holds dear. 

Shadow Magic is a magical fantasy adventure from a debut author, Joshua Khan. Meant for 4th – 6th graders, I’d put Khan’s writing on par with Brandon Mull and Jonathan Stroud’s earlier series – as with Mull’s and Stroud’s earlier writing, there’s room for improvement to become an amazing rather than “just” a great middle-grade fantasy author. I was highly impressed. I can tell already that Khan will be another favorite author. 

I loved the world-building, characters, and plot of Shadow Magic – all were creative and fun. Bonus points for being able to wrap up all the loose threads so that there’s room for a second book, but no need or expectation for one. Khan is working on the second one now, and I am eagerly awaiting it to see how the characters grow. 


Unnatural Issue, by Mercedes Lackey

Unnatural Issue

Written by Mercedes Lackey,  Narrated by Kate Reading

Reason for Reading: This was meant to be included in a fairy tale challenge in February, but that didn’t work out for me too well. But I’m still going to finish up my Donkeyskin books, regardless! 


Review
When Earth Master Richard Whitestone’s wife dies in childbirth, he discards their newborn  daughter Suzanne in a fit of rage. Suzanne is raised as a servant of the household, while her father wastes away in his chambers. After many years, Whitestone develops a new passion – necromancy. When he sees his daughter wandering his lands, he realizes she is the perfect vessel in which to trap his dead wife’s spirit. Suzanne must flee her father, and hide in the guise of a servant in another household. But her skill in Earth magic is difficult to hide…

This is a non-canonical retelling of the fairy tale Donkeyskin, and is part of Lakey’s Elemental Master series. Although it certainly has charm and originality, it is not my favorite of the Donkeyskin retellings, nor of the Elemental Master series. I felt the premise of the book – a necromantic father, Elemental Masters fighting in WWI, with a touch of romance – had promise. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t delivered as well as it could have been. The romance seemed forced, and the war sections uninteresting. Not that it was a terrible book, but it could have been so much better. Lackey is better than this. 

But, if you’re looking for a fluffy-quick read, or an original fairy tale retelling, this book will certainly deliver that. 🙂 The narration by Kate Reading was quite good. She did the voices well, and had good timing.