The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

SYNOPSIS:

Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:

1) Woo the Shadow King.

2) Marry him.

3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.

No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.

But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?

***

Genre: YA Fantasy; Romance

Page count: 326 (Hardcover); 333 (Kindle edition)

Year of publishing: 2020

Rating: ⭐⭐ (2.45/5)

I wanted to love this book. I didn’t love this book.

I wanted to like this book. I didn’t like this book.

What can I say now? It was bland.

I don’t want to hate on this, I don’t like to hate on things in general, but I must signal some not-so-pleasant aspects about it. I want to put into words what I felt after giving The Shadows Between Us a shot.

The concept is really interesting. Like, that synopsis sold me the book. And the beginning was very promising.

First of all, there is basically no world-building. There are some vague terms thrown at us on various occasions, but apart from that I have no idea how this world is supposed to look like. I mean, if we talk about a mighty kingdom that extended its boundaries by conquering other kingdoms, at least give me a damn sketch if you can’t pull off a whole map.

And maybe I was willing to close an eye at the weak world if the characters were consistent. But, to my surprise, they were very interestingly contoured at the beginning but that was the peak. They just disappointed me by the end.

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Alessandra is portraited as an antagonist instead of the classical good-hearted protagonist we’re so used to read about. She was supposed to be the anti-example of the all well-mannered heroines. She’s selfish, self-absorbed in the way that she could watch herself in the mirror for hours and still not get bored; she’s murderous and wicked-minded; she has a heart of ice and she’s a bit unstable when she gets a bit upset. But she’s also pretty sure of herself, which is a great thing because it adds to one’s self-care daily routine, I guess.

Her only desire is to marry the young Shadow King, kill him and rule over six kingdoms. She was supposed to be wicked. And at the beginning that’s how she seemed to be. But then, I don’t know what happened, this book started to deflate instead of puffing its chest and show us who’s the boss.

I was promised a Slytherin kind of romance and I didn’t quite get it.

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I was expecting Kallias, the Shadow King, to be more intimidating than that. I mean, he supposedly conquered I don’t know how many kingdoms (“fair and square”, I might add) but he somehow does not exude that kind of energy. I cannot picture this almighty, domineering king when I think of Kallias. I just see a shy boy who loves spending time with his fluff of a dog (which, by the way, mild spoiler alert, is the best thing this book has to offer).

His exceptional powers don’t allow him to have normal human contact without getting hurt afterwards, so that led to extreme loneliness and an unspoken desire of affection. He honestly cannot be the ruthless ruler he wants to be. I cannot picture him like that in any way. This inner weakness of his stands in his way to greatness.

(now Adele’s Turning Tables chorus is blasting in my mind SO I WON’T LET YOU CLOSE ENOUGH TO HURT ME – picture that a bit, I’m getting you in the mood)

Alessandra and Kallias do fall in love eventually, but it doesn’t feel quite real.

Nothing really seems real after a while. The plot is too bland to actually be exciting and the situation in which Alessandra and Kallias find themselves are quite bad. I mean, Alessandra wants to be this mastermind behind a kingdom’s council, but her ideas are so bloody common.

And also, can we talk about how bad deeds are laughed at in this book and dismissed like annoying gnats instead of being dealt with? Because this is exactly what it happens.

But somehow I couldn’t help but notice the idea of women seen as sexual beings in a world that is still not flexible in that matter. There were little empowering, undercover feminist speeches scattered from place to place in the whole book. And in my opinion, this is a thing that deserves half a star from me. I saw the intention and I appreciate it.

“The poets can say whatever they damned liked. A woman’s worth is not decided by what’s between her legs but by what is in her mind.”

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This book has such a chaotic vibe to it I don’t really know how to explain it. And even though I was expecting better from it, I didn’t feel like hating it. It just left a bitter taste in its wake for me, that’s all. Not entirely pleasant.

But hey, at least I can say that Alessandra is a fashionista all the way and I truly like that about her. That’s a plus on my list too.

5 thoughts on “The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

  1. Its always such a disappointment when a premise sounds amazing and it just doesn’t quite come through. I was interested in this but reading reviews it might not be me for unfortunately. Hopefully you’ll find something new to enjoy more soon

    Liked by 1 person

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