[REVIEW] Shadows of Self – Brandon Sanderson

Characters – 4/5
Plot – 5/5
Style – 4/5
World building – 4/5
Overall – 4/5

“To the eyes of a man burning steel, Elendel was alight and full of motion, even while shadowed by darkness and mist. Metal. In some ways, that was the true mark of mankind. Man tamed the stones, the bones of the earth below. Man tamed the fire, that ephemeral, consuming soul of life. And combining the two, he drew forth the marrow of the rocks themselves, then made molten tools.”

SHADOWS OF SELF sees the return of Waxillium Ladrian, trying to balance his responsibilities as a lord and a lawman. When the Governor’s brother is murdered whilst hosting the cities corrupt noblemen and women, Wax is quickly drawn into the investigation. With the city falling apart and the killer always preternaturally one step ahead, Wax is forced to come uncomfortably close to accepting the possibility that this is one case he simply can’t handle.

In the same style as ALLOY OF LAW, Wax ends up once again drawn into a tangled mess of crimes, mysteries and thrilling experiences. There is a distinctly Wild West feel to these Era 2 novels that widens the genre and brings a completely new aspect to the fantasy landscape. I really enjoyed this crossover and as a reader who usually avoids crime and thrillers, this sideways introduction might encourage me to give some of the more traditional novels in this genre a try.

My absolute favourite features of the Wax and Wayne novels are the subtle nods to the original trilogy. While ALLOW OF LAW and SHADOWS OF SELF can both be appreciated without having read the Mistborn books, Wax’s thrill being at one with the mists is so beautifully aligned with my memories of the first novels. It’s incredibly nostalgic to read about the religions dedicated to serving Kelsier, Vin and Sazed as well as revisiting old places with new characters.

As what is essentially the fifth book of a series, at first SHADOWS OF SELF doesn’t seem to have much scope for building on an already well established world. But, of course, this is Brandon Sanderson we’re talking about. Taking on the industrial boom of Scadrial, where Kelsier and Vin once raced through Elendel’s streets in darkness, Wax now flies above motorcars and electric lights. It’s amazing to see such a familiar world through fresh eyes and I loved getting to know this newly developed Scadrial 300 years after the main events. Even since ALLOY OF LAW there has been rapid development in weapons and transport; this world is vibrant and free from the ashes that plagued Vin’s era.

The new characters continue to develop and I’ve really grown to like the determined Marasi more and more throughout these novels. She has just the right amount of impatience and tempestuousness thrown in with her intelligent and determined demeanour. Wax continues to be brilliant and terrible in equal measure, making reckless decisions that both serve his pride and protect his people.

We see the return of some huge characters and creatures from the Mistborn trilogy to shake the plot up and I’m very excited to see where Brandon takes the future books. The twists were just that little bit more sophisticated, complete with a truly unpredictable and devious villain, and the pace is pitched perfectly, keeping the narrative steaming ahead straight into a shattering conclusion. Dropping some serious bombshells towards the end, it’s clear that Wax, Wayne and Marasi definitely have a lot of story left to tell.

I received SHADOWS OF SELF from Orion in exchange for an honest review. My reviews always represent my own opinion.

[REVIEW] Brood – Chase Novak

Characters – 3/5
Plot – 3/5
Style – 3/5
Setting – 3/5
Overall – 3/5

In a Tweet
Teens born from an experimental fertility treatment are becoming cannibalistic & wild. Can Cynthia keep her twins safe or will they succumb?

Set in a modern New York City, BROOD tells the increasingly fraught tale of twins Adam and Alice Twisden. Sequel to BREED, I picked it up without having read the first book and it told a complete story with no assumption of knowledge of previous events.

Cynthia has finally won the custody battle for her niece and nephew, years after her sister met a gruesome end in the very house she now lives in. After their parents underwent gruelling and dangerous fertility treatment abroad, the twins have experienced true horror as they bore witness to the vicious and animalistic behaviour of their parents. Now Adam and Alice are growing up, they are desperately struggling to slow the effects of their own changing and suppress the same wild urges that plagued their parents.

The concept behind BROOD is something really different and intriguing; definitely an idea I haven’t encountered before. Even better was the choice to situate the events in a modern and realistic world, rather than a science fiction or alternate setting. This created some great underlaying social questions too; would people really resort to this dangerous fertility treatment in real life? The wild and frightening effects of the treatment and the children it created are swept under the rug and kept top secret in Novak’s world; I wonder how they would be handled in reality?

The first few chapters didn’t really grab me in any strong clear way, so it took me a little longer than I would have liked to get stuck into the story. However once I’d scoped out the characters, I did find myself really involved with the plot and constantly trying to guess how the story would pan out. It was difficult to predict the progression of the story one chapter to the next, making for a pretty exciting read in the long run.

My favourite part of Novak’s writing was the pidgin language he created for the feral children in Rodolfo’s gang. It really set them apart as a community and highlighted their differences from the adults without having to constantly refer to their physicality. The writing didn’t spark the terror I want from a horror novel, but the tension was built pretty well throughout the novel so I wasn’t too put out by this.

While I enjoyed the truly fresh story, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed with the ending. I would have been happy for the story to end with the final chapter rather than continuing on in the epilogue. The epilogue just didn’t seem to fit the climax at all, so it felt out of character and at odds with what would have been the logical ending.

While I didn’t find any of the characters particularly endearing, I don’t believe you have to like each one to understand and appreciate their stories. Cynthia was especially frustrating, and I much preferred to follow the twins and Rodolfo in their more exciting threads. Cynthia’s voice is suffocating and over-stuffed with the adoration and fear of a new mother, but definitely illustrates her creeping realisation that she is out of her depth. Alice and Adam can be vicious and cruel and most of the side characters are varying degrees of evil too, which were more fun to read.

I thought, overall, that BROOD was an easy and enjoyable read. It wasn’t quite the bone-chilling horror story I wanted, but I will still be going back to read BREED to find out more about Alice and Adam’s troubled childhood.

I received BROOD from Mulholland Books in exchange for an honest review. My reviews always represent my own true opinion.