Monday, December 12, 2011

Early Review : Shadow Heir (Dark Swan, Book 4) by Richelle Mead

Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham strives to keep the mortal realm safe from trespassing entities. But as the Thorn Land's prophecy-haunted queen, there's no refuge for her and her soon-to-be-born-children when a mysterious blight begins to devastate the Otherworld. . .

The spell-driven source of the blight isn't the only challenge to Eugenie's instincts. Fairy king Dorian is sacrificing everything to help, but Eugenie can't trust the synergy drawing them back together. The uneasy truce between her and her shape shifter ex-lover Kiyo is endangered by secrets he can't--or won't--reveal. And as a formidable force rises to also threaten the human world, Eugenie must use her own cursed fate as a weapon--and risk the ultimate sacrifice. . .

** Warning: Slight spoilers. **
**Large spoilers for anyone who hasn't read Iron Crowned**

This wasn't quite the happily ever after ending that I was hoping for, but Eugenie's life hasn't exactly been a fairy tale. Well, I suppose that isn't completely true. After all,  she is a woman who discovers that she's at the center of an ancient magical prophecy and stumbles upon events that eventually lead to her rule as Queen over a fairy kingdom in the Otherworld... so maybe it is a fairy tale, but still, the happily ever after doesn't quite wrap up in a way that leaves me happy and well satisfied.

The events in the beginning of the story focus primarily on Eugenie's pregnancy. The main concern is prenatal care for the twins, keeping Eugenie safely guarded and decisions on how to continue to keep everyone safe once the twins arrive.

While this was a somewhat interesting and understandably necessary portion of the story, I felt that it moved along rather slowly and I was anxious for the action to begin. And honestly, I was anxious for more time with Dorian as well.

Aside from the circumstances that evolved from the prophecy, the story begins to focus on a disastrous blight that has stricken certain kingdoms in the Otherworld.

Eugenie and Dorian join together and assemble a group to assist on a journey to reverse the damage that has been brought upon their lands and their people. Along the way they encounter many supernatural obstacles, backstabbing traitors, and a furry little fox who should have been taken out of the picture a long time ago.

There are a few things that I really enjoyed about this story. One being Dorian. The Dorian without manipulations and half-truths and power plays at Eugenie's expense. We see a side of Dorian that's more raw and vulnerable.. more real. No more doubting and wondering as to why he's sticking around Eugenie and so adamant about becoming a father to two children who aren't his. It was refreshing to finally alleviate those nagging little doubts that I've had about him from the previous stories.  

The other thing that I enjoyed was Volusian, but I always love Volusian. Before the story's conclusion we finally receive some information on his background. The questions of where he came from and who was responsible for the way he is now are all answered. 

I also enjoyed the twists toward the ending. There are two significant surprises revealed and while I was able to guess the first one beforehand, they were both very interesting revelations that added to the story's excitement (which it definitely needed more of).

There were also several things that I disliked. I felt as if I set my expectations too high. I was anticipating something more exciting... I don't know... something more epic. Something along the lines of a battle to the death between Dorian and Kiyo, or Maiwenn and Eugenie, or even Eugenie and Kiyo. How about a bloody Eugenie and Dorian vs Maiwenn and Kiyo battle? Seriously, how awesome would that be? That's 10 star material all by itself. But instead, I was disappointed that the only villain to get what was coming to them was a villain that I really could have cared less about.

I also had an issue with the ending and Eugenie's decision. It seemed as if Dorian put everything out there for her, convinced us all that he would give her anything within his power and that she could place her trust in him. Then in the end she made a decision that didn't seem to put much faith and trust in him at all. 

I understand a lot of reviewers are going to feel differently and I somewhat understand why Eugenie made the decision that she did. But in my opinion, it almost felt as if she was as manipulative and untrustworthy as she's accused Dorian of being. Over the course of this series Eugenie has made a lot of bad decisions that have made situations more interesting and exciting, but this decision just made me feel sad.

I'm very curious to see how my fellow Dark Swan fans will feel after reading the series' conclusion. I have a feeling there will be a lot of mixed reviews.

*Thank you so much to Christen @ Goldilox and the Three Weres for sending me this ARC. 


Melissa (My words and pages) said...

This is an author I do want to get to reading one of these days. Sorry it wasn't the ending you were looking for. :) Thank you!

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