Title: The Shadow Hour
Author: Melissa Grey
Published by: Delacorte Press
Publication date: July 12, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure, Romance
Summary from Goodreads:
Everything in Echo’s life changed in a blinding flash when she learned the startling truth: she is the firebird, the creature of light that is said to bring peace.
The firebird has come into the world, but it has not come alone. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and Echo can feel a great and terrible darkness rising in the distance. Cosmic forces threaten to tear the world apart.
Echo has already lost her home, her family, and her boyfriend. Now, as the firebird, her path is filled with even greater dangers than the ones she’s already overcome.
She knows the Dragon Prince will not fall without a fight.
Echo must decide: can she wield the power of her true nature—or will it prove too strong for her, and burn what’s left of her world to the ground?
Welcome to the shadow hour.
Like many second installments to trilogies, the middle book is often plagued with less plot and an adjustment to character circumstances. The Shadow Hour is no different - following Echo as she adjusts to being the firebird and navigates relational changes with her friends. I wasn't bored, but I like character studies, and we get to know these characters better and watch them change and try to make sense of themselves. While Shadow Hour sets up the third book for an ultimate showdown with Echo as the powerful firebird, I like that Echo's character from the first book is not lost. Sure, she struggles with some self doubt, but Echo is the same wise-cracking, intelligent, word-loving (she knows words, and really does have the best words) thief.
Echo's relationships with the men in her life confuse her: she cares for both Rowan and Caius. One makes his feelings known more than another, but between Echo's past with Rowan and Caius' past with Rose (who resides in Echo's mind), it's almost impossible to do a thorough self-examination of the heart in times of survival. I was surprised Rowan played a larger role in this book, and it was nice to get to know him better. Caius endears himself to Echo (and me) with his rudimentary understanding of modern technology - I mean, who can really trust a microwave? Caius and Echo's relationship could be rocky as Echo comes to blows with Caius' sister in the final book. I do think Echo and Caius will end up together in the end. Echo's relationship seemed more sisterly toward Rowan. While those three are sorting things out, Dorian and Jasper make some relationship strides in this book. For fans of these two, you'll be happy.
I liked this book. The Girl at Midnight was full of discovery, adventure, and snark, which I liked better. Though the Shadow Hour might have been a little weak, hopefully it sets up Echo and her friends for an explosive conclusion.
Would I let my teen read this book?
Like The Girl at Midnight - this is a fantasy story with compelling characters and a creative, epic mythology. At its heart are themes about family, trust, and sacrifice—worthy of discussing. There is some language and violence, along with romantic relationships between heterosexuals and homosexuals, for these reasons I’ve recommended this book for everyone 16 and older. See the specifics below.
Age recommendation: 16
Language – Moderate – There's a few f-words and other curses
Drugs & Alcohol— None
Sex – Kisses between hetero and homosexual couples
Violence – Destructive violence (fire, buildings crumbling) that kills characters
My Goodreads rating: 3 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.