Review: Shift of Shadow and Soul by Hilary Thompson

About the book:

In Weshen, magic is forbidden and punishable by death. Corentine has the worst kind.

Having Shifter magic is a curse, not a blessing. Coren must hide her power from everyone, especially Syashin, the General’s son.

But Sy’s secrets might be the key to unlocking her own.

Coren and Sy must work together, to either accept banishment, or rebel to save their home. The people are fugitives in their own country, and freedom must be taken, not given. Their only chance of survival is to defeat the Restless King.

Only then can their ruined society rise from the ashes… unless the Shadow finds them first.

Review by Katy Haye:

I have no idea how I found this book. It popped up on my kindle when I was in a “nothing to read” mood, scrolling through in desperate search of something worth spending time on. It might have been there for years so far as I know. What a waste because it’s a true treasure.

The world-building created a complex and varied world and the societies inside it were messy and slightly alarming. The writing was spare and skilful, painting a picture while still allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions about what was going on.

But it was the characters I truly fell in love with. Corin was a spiky, powerful delight who made me ache for everything she’d had to deal with already and everything looming in her future. Sy was weighed down by duty and expectations, but strong and determined to do the right thing whatever the cost to himself. Most importantly, characters changed during the course of the book. I would happily have tipped Resh off a cliff when we first met him, but he learned from the events of the story and developed an intelligence and character that meant I was happy to spend time with him by the end of the book.

And the relationships were spectacular. My usual complaint with YA is that the romances are far too easy. Boy meets girl and falls in love – even if boy or girl is actually a werewolf or a ghost, the actual path of the romance makes it look easy. That’s all very well (if a bit dull), but I think we’re doing our teens a disservice to suggest to them that the first person they feel attraction towards is bound to be their soulmate and everything will be smooth from that point (excepting the zombie apocalypse, natch).

Kids – puberty is traumatic and relationships can be spectacularly messy and painful. Like most things in life, you need practice to learn how to get along with another human being on an intimate basis.

Lesson over, A Shift of Shadow and Soul showed clearly how tangled and difficult relationships can be, but also that they’re worth persevering to figure out. And I loved it for that.

I absolutely adored every page of A Shift of Shadow and Soul. If you like magic and messy, imperfect worlds (and relationships!), it’s well worth checking out.

Katy Haye writes speculative YA fiction. Check out the first book in her new YA fantasy series, Awakened by Magic. Kyann only wants to save her sister, but a greater destiny of myth and magic awaits her in the Empire of Charnrosa.

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