Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “It’s a familiar feeling, being pushed to the side like this.“
Sandy Williams once again takes us on a dark, twisted journey with the second installment of her dynamic urban fantasy McKenzie Lewis series, The Shattered Dark. Our heroine McKenzie Lewis isn’t your average urban fantasy heroine. She has a unique gift, the ability to read and locate Elves through the trace of magic they leave when transporting, but no special powers or skills. In The Shadow Reader, she proves that her true strength lies in her loyalty, intelligence, and stubbornness; allowing her to more than hold her own. Ms. Williams continues to evolve and develop McKenzie, both personally and in a professional sense, which I appreciated. In The Shadow Reader, she was a balanced protagonist but somewhat bland in her dialogue and thoughts. We got the basics of her personality though I felt she could have flashed out better. McKenzie seems more three dimensional in this installment. The world building is complex with it’s continued political manipulations and geography make up. Though we still only get small snippets of the fae world and politic, there is a healthy balance achieved between the storyline and the world in which it is built.
McKenzie has made her choice in the battle for the fae throne and has thrown her lot in with the rebels. Along with Kyol and Aren, she does her part to help secure Lena’s place on the throne. When her friend Paige comes up missing, McKenzie makes a deal with fae entrepreneur, Lorn, to learn her location. McKenzie soon learns that Paige hasn’t been kidnapped but has joined the remnants in their battle to defeat the rebels and secure the throne for themselves. While Mackenzie struggles to find and understand why Paige has done this, she is also dealing with her feelings for Aren & Kyol, and her life in general. McKenzie wants some semblance of a normal life but fate seems to have other plans for her.
There are multiple story lines that run simultaneously and dependent upon one another. Heavily character driven, this installment allows us multiple views from both the rebels and the remnants. What I enjoy about this series is the degrees of separation. There are really no good or bad players in this conflict. Everyone has done what they felt was best at the time. Things have been done that cannot be undone and all are paying some sort of price for that. No one is left unscathed by the events that come to light.
While I enjoyed the tentative romantic exploration of feelings between Mackenzie and Aren, there isn’t much to be done during a war. Plus, we have to remember they have only known each other for little over a month and the majority of it was spent with McKenzie as Aren’s prisoner. They are unable to spend much time together and for the most part, McKenzie spends an inordinate amount of time needing to be saved. I do wish the love triangle would have remained in the background. Unresolved feelings between McKenzie and Kyol rears its ugly head and we are left in a state of shock as to the outcome of those feelings. I couldn’t help but feel that the climatic ending was used as bait for book three rather than a normal course for the story to follow.
The main conflict is a treacherous path filled with deception, misdirection, and betrayal. You never know who is telling the truth and just when you think you’ve figured it out, Ms. Williams changes direction and you are once again frantically trying to keep up. The ending hurt my heart and leaves us balancing on the edge of rocky precipice. Once again, Mckenzie’s choices have been taken from her and she is the beneficiary of a decision she never wanted. This book will keep your emotions running high till the end. Unfortunately, there isn’t much resolution to the multiple storylines in here. Rather, this installment exists as a bridge between book one and book three. It gives us clues from behind the scenes as to what brought us to this point and where we are going; but nothing is set in concrete.
Regardless, it remains an intriguing series that is sure to appeal to urban fantasy lovers of the noir. I look forward to reading more about Ms. Williams world.
Overall Rating: C+