Audiobook Review: SHADOWBLACK by Sebastien de Castell

Title in blue in front of a black and white drawing of a boy with a feral cat on his shoulder
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: yes - second book

*SPOILER ALERT: contains SPOILERS for SPELLSLINGER*

Synopsis:

shadowblack

It’s a few months since Kellen left his people behind. Now aged sixteen, Kellen is an outlaw, relying on his wits to keep him alive in the land of the Seven Sands. He misses home, he misses family and more than anything, he misses Nephenia, the girl he left behind.

Then he meets Seneira, a blindfolded girl who isn’t blind, and who carries a secret that’s all too familiar to Kellen. Kellen and Ferius resolve to help – but the stakes are far higher than they realise. A Shadowblack plague is taking hold – and Kellen can’t help but suspect his own people may even be behind it.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

This was an engaging sequel, which both expanded the world and dug deep into Kellen’s isolation by contrasting his experience with the Shadowblack with others’ experience – letting him help and be helped, but still feeling on the outside.

The narrator, Joe Jameson, is brilliant, particularly with accents. The first book just had Ferrius’ and Reikus’ accents differing from the main Jan’tep accent. This book has people from all over the continent, so not only does Joe face the challenge of making the voices distinct but also signalling the differences in their regional dialects. He manages it with ease.

(Apologies if the spellings are all wrong, I’m trying to phonetically spell what I heard as my physical copy is in another city)

Reikus is probably my favourite character, because I kept snorting as I listened. He and Ferrius play off each other so well (the pink fur!), but the squirrel cat has a lot of funny moments on his own.

For me, the heart of this book was the relationships. Kellen has had to leave his life behind, and is being hunted by his own people. The strain it puts between him and Ferrius, particularly when another Agosi comes along to show him that Ferrius’ version of the Agosi life isn’t the only one.

The tensions between really added another layer to the story, particularly as it played into Kellen’s central struggle about what direction his life was to take. Various diverging paths are offered to him, and I loved watching him grow as he had to consider which would be best.

The ending certainly feels likes it’s leading in the whole series’ plot, unlike the ending of the first book. It’s an intriguing idea, which could lead to any number of possibilities. I can’t see where the plot will go, but I think the next few books’ focus will start narrowing down to one major goal. With that prospect ahead, I’m excited to start listening to the third entry in the series, CHARMCASTER.


Read my reviews of other books by Sebastien de Castell:

Argosi (chronologically before this series):

Spellslinger (this series):

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