To Kill a Shadow
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Pub Date: Nov. 28th, 2023
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy / Fantasy Horror / Fantasy Romance
Britannia meets The Mist―with a touch of Evil Dead―in this illusory fantasy horror about a kingdom left to darkness…
Jude Maddox knows nothing of love or even light. He knows only his grim duty as the Hand of Death, to lead the Knights of the Eternal Star into a land filled with nightmares and certain demise. It’s only when he sees her―a young woman with wild, amber eyes who’s as fierce, defiant, and swift as the shadow beasts themselves―that he feels the warmth of life in his blood…
The other Knights may fear their lethal commander, with his hard, merciless demeanor. Outcast Kiara Frey sees only a leader, a man who knows how to survive. Someone like her. But wanting him is as treacherous as the shadows themselves…and just as seductive.
With a kingdom on the verge of collapse, the Knights must now venture into the darkest heart of the land and uncover the secrets of the misted shadows, where evil will prey upon their minds and feast on their flesh.
It will betray their senses.
It will surpass their nightmares.
Most of them will die.
But they have no other choice. Because the only way to fight the darkness…is to become it.
r e v i e w
'To Kill a Shadow' by Katherine Quinn is a split POV tale that follows the mingled paths of a Knight Commander named Jude Maddox and Kiara Frey, a young woman from a poor village, whose decision to protect her brother lands her in conscription.
Jude, also known as the Hand of Death, is a brutally scarred warrior who is said to belong to the King. Marked inside and out, he's suffered greatly at the hands of those who should have loved him.. as much or more than he has from the enemies he has encountered. He's considered cold, hard, and unreachable, considering himself as much monster as the beasts he has felled.
Kiara is an outcast in her village. Her connection with anyone left beyond her younger brother, is tenuous at best. Defiant, she's quick to anger and quick to fight, relishing the adrenaline of the challenge.. and that's exactly what puts her in peril.
Though there is an overarching plot and clearly intentions for more in a series, I felt most of the book centered on the characters themselves. Quinn seemed to focus largely on the development of Jude and Kiara.. both as individuals.. and on the story growing between them.
Pacing was moderate.. seemingly to allow time for things to expand between not only the main characters, but the cast of supporting characters as well. As is often the case, for me.. that meant it dragged just a little. Not enough that I ever wanted to stop reading, just enough that it felt like it took me a bit longer to read than it needed to. That's just my personal preference though and in no way does it reflect on the quality of the writing.
That being said, I did feel there were moments the writing felt a little clumsy, but they were mostly brief and really subject to the same things 90% of modern authors seem to struggle with. Transitional moments in relationships and natural dialogue have got to be two of the most common I see. While these emotional transitions were a little off-balance, the dialogue here is largely pretty good.
My only complaint is probably the actual statement that Kiara 'isn't like others.' I mean, we get it. We get tired of it.. but we get it. You don't have to say it. Again, that's personal taste. On that note, Quinn does have a habit of repeating things she doesn't want the reader to miss, which irks me because I pay attention. However, seeing as most readers seem to lose the plot easily, I can understand her choice to do so.
Quinn did do a fantastic job on settings, in my opinion. From the grittiness of the small village, to the opulent, oppressive nature of the Knights home.. and later.. within the mist.. where all manner of vile and carnivorous thing might dwell, her descriptions are visually lush.
I really loved Jude though and Kiara is a pretty good co-lead. I found her to be kind and funny.. and she managed not to annoy me.. which is really what I ask most in a 'strong, female character' design. I do hope Quinn continues the story as I am hooked enough that I want to see what Jude has planned.. and there's a villain I'm waiting to find out about in-depth.
While I will happily recommend a read, there is a fair bit of violence and gore, and some subjects certain readers might find uncomfortable.. as it is a horror fantasy.