Title: Reign of Shadows
Author: Sophie Jordan
Published by: HarperTeen
Publication date: February 9, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure, Romance
Summary from Goodreads:
Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.
But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.
With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.
A trek across an eternally dark landscape, not a lot happens in Reign of Shadows. Mostly world building and character development, the story follows Luna and Fowler and their growing affection for one another. But that character development didn’t always feel consistent, and details in the world building were abrupt at times (tree wolves – Digger! What happened to you? And why were you there at all?? Gigantor bats, plain old rabbits, oh and a mutated octopus eels were also in the story, but there could’ve been more background to these large, strange animals).
I loved Luna when we first meet her, then I loved her even more when her disability is illuminated. A soldier has trained her, so she’s capable, and she has these super sensitive senses that give her an advantage to everyone. She’s also compassionate. However, despite being more than capable, I was disappointed as the book went on when she became more of a damsel in distress. I wanted to see her kick butt, and defend herself; instead Fowler almost continually jumps in to save her. Granted, he is very protective, but all I’m saying is the girl has skillz and I wanted to see her use them.
“Luna was like that flower: innocent on the outside, but dangerous to anyone who got too close. Even me.” – Fowler
Fowler is the reluctant hero. Though he respects Luna, he grumbles and seethes at the idea of compassion—it’s useless in this self-serving world. But as much as he grumbles, he also can’t seem to help coming to the rescue. Fowler’s growing love for Luna softens his heart and turns this self-serving soldier into a self-sacrificing lover—which results in one dramatic cliffhanger.
The antagonist of the story looms in the background with his evil cracked brain. Besides the assassins, he’s not much of an immediate threat. I assume we’ll get closer to him as the series continues. Luna’s royalty has little effect on her. She feels responsible for others, but she doesn’t seem too anxious to take up the throne. I’m curious about the process she’ll go through to end up there.
I forgot to mention the dwellers! I imagine them as Jell-O blobs with fluttering ribbon feelers for mouths – not sure if my description is right, but I can’t get the Jell-O blob image out of my head. I think they have arms and legs, because they have claws. So, yes there you have it. Don’t imagine them as Jell-O blobs. They come out of the ground and they will kill you or drag you under with them. They are rather mysterious. But I think much is about to be revealed…in 365 days.
Would I let my teen read this book?
Both Luna and Fowler live in a world of misconceptions. Luna can’t wait to escape her tower, but then discovers that she didn’t appreciate the safety and security the tower afforded her. Fowler thinks the only way to survive is by not caring about anyone but himself. Then he realizes that not only do he and Luna need each other, but love gives him real purpose in survival.
I like the questions raised here about “is it really greener on the other side?” Without experiencing the outside world, could Luna appreciate the safety of the tower? Was she too sheltered? Is it good for us to be alone? What does companionship offer, etc?
There are some dark images of humanity in the book, and some violence against humans. The rest of the book is relatively clean. I recommend it for everyone 14 and up.
Age recommendation: 14
Language – none
Drugs & Alcohol – none
Sex – Several lingering kisses, descriptions of bodies aligned and pressed together
Violence – Several people are stabbed with a sword or have their throats slit; knives to the heart or head; there’s a person who carries a bag of decapitated heads
My Goodreads rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
I read a lot. I'm a Mom. I'm officially in my 30s, but strangers often don't believe I'm old enough to drink. I love Young Adult fiction, and thought it was worthwhile to help teens and adults find age-appropriate options.