Author: Tricia Levenseller
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository .
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy; Romance
Release Date: February 25th 2020.
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?
Looks like I’m on the minority in this. I expected to like this one. Because I’d heard really good things about the author and her previous work. But this might end up as her only book that I read.
The author calls this her Slytherin romance. Maybe it is. Because it reminded me of one of those Harry Potter fanfictions I used to read back in school with Slytherin characters at the foreground. (That’s not to say all fanfictions are bad. That would be an unfair generalization. It’s just that I was so indiscriminate in reading whatever I came across, I had the misfortune of having more bad reads than good. Even so, I’ve read some brilliant pieces of writing in my time as a fanfiction reader. But I digress.)
Back to the topic. Brilliant piece of writing isn’t exactly what I would call this book. I found the writing clumsy, even beyond the few typos that I came across. I compared this book to a fanfiction, because while it might be the manifestation of the author’s desire to write a Slytherin romance, there was no depth to it. Here are a few examples:
Little to no world building
The world building was very disappointing. We find out very little about this universe and its making, over the course of the book. Maybe the author thought that the readers would find it dull to read pages and pages of world building or stream of consciousness? That’s why she drops us in the middle of this universe without any warning. But that did not help the book. Rather, her writing lacked conviction and the story still fell flat.
Unsatisfactory delineation of the protagonist
It only takes a couple of pages for us to find that the protagonist is morally compromised. And her goal is to seduce the shadow king into marrying her and then kill him. You will agree with me that this is pretty dark stuff. And I like my dark heroines. But there needs to be conviction in her portrayal. What does the author do to set this up? We are fed a few lines of how something terrible happened to Alessandra to kickstart her descent into darkness.
But to want to kill the king? We are told that she has been ignored by her father forever in favor of a more likeable sister. So Alessandra wants power and attention. That’s her reason. But she could still have that power even if she became a queen without killing the husband. I just found the reasoning very shallow. Not enough time is spent to show us how how she reached this conclusion without ever even having met the king. I would not have minded a few pages more on her delineation and stream of consciousness. Or perhaps a flashback of that terrible incident that forever changed her.
Laughingly predictable storyline
So how does Alessandra decide to catch the eyes of the king? Wear black to the ball and dance with everyone except the king. And voila! He is fascinated.
Not only this, everything from the mysterious villain after the king’s life, to the ending – it all screamed predictable to me.
No proper character development
The author not only spends little to no effort in building or setting up the protagonist’s dark character, but she also spends equal amount of effort in delineating her change of mind. Shocking.
Everything was just dull
If you promise us a Slytherin romance, if nothing else, the least you could do is deliver some scintillating conversations. If you promise us a ‘king of shadows’, the least you could do is make him interesting. The author failed on both counts.
I thought the book would turn tenfold interesting when Alessandra entered the castle. But it turned even duller if that’s possible. The conversations between Alessandra and the king were yawn-inducing. No spark. Nothing. There is this part where the king offers a fake courtship to her. It read like a typical New Adult scene.
I was disappointed by everything about the book. The world-building, the storytelling, the characterizations, everything. This is simply a lazy piece of writing. But looking at the hordes of high ratings it received, you should definitely take my opinions with a grain of salt.