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The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey. Book Review.

August 4, 2016

The Shadow Hour

After a terrifying transformation, Echo is now the firebird, the creature of light supposed to bring peace to the world. The only problem is the firebird has pulled something very sinister along with it. Echo is now on the run both from her own people and the Drakharin. So she must now find the strength and means to save the world, while trying to deal with Tanith, the new and very unpleasant Dragon Prince, who is after more than simple revenge.

The Shadow Hour is the follow on book to the young adult fantasy novel, The Girl at Midnight. It is classed as Young Adult largely because the main character Echo is tipping into adulthood, and although the other characters may have lived quite a bit longer, Echo can more than hold her own. Because of this, the depth of the characters, the plot and the quality of writing, The Shadow Hour is an entertaining crossover read. Which is why this is an excellent book to read for a writer who wants not only to write entertaining stories, but also do it well.

The trick with fantasy is to write about something that could never happen in real life, but make it feel as if it is all perfectly normal, and how could you never have seen it with your own eyes? This is something Melissa Grey does well because her excellent writing technique drops you right into Echo’s world and doesn’t make you work hard to come to terms with it. This creates a very quick and satisfying read with real depth.

The prologue really demonstrates the precision of the author’s writing, capturing not only backstory, but the strength of emotions evoked through skillful observation of what took place in the past as well as providing a recap of the previous book, from a slightly different perspective.

Echo is effectively the main lead, but all the characters play useful roles which add to the richness of the book. All the relationships between the characters ring true, creating narrative tension in all the right places. There is also a subtle interplay of relationships within the network of allies. Humour is put to great use, often flowing into perilous situations, which in themselves may generate snatches of humour.

Tanith is a superb villain who is a really nasty piece of work. Her relationship with Caius is complex and his underlying brotherly love for her is something she exploits to the max. Caius’s developing relationship with Echo is handled really well, mainly because of the depth of Echo’s character. She is indeed an appealing. Even in a dire situation she will be creating some throwaway line in her head. Echo may not yet be an adult, but she is having to make some very mature decisions and yet there is still that sense she has a great deal more to learn about life, despite the fact she is already very remarkable.

Caius is probably meant to be the sexy male lead in the story, but for all his charms, it is Jasper who wins the prize hands down. His ‘will they, won’t they?’ relationship with Dorian threatens to set the book on fire in your hands, particularly after the introduction of the Warlock Quinn with whom Jasper has history. Quinn is horribly devious in the Lord Byron class of ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’ so all the more desirable because of it. This is only one of the many tensions that simmer throughout the story.

If you have not the slightest interest in what makes the book tick, fear not. Just sit back and enjoy the many crises that the band of allies falls in and out of over the course of the novel. This is an excellent series and the next instalment is well worth waiting for.

The Shadow Hour was courtesy of Atom Books

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