Title: Cloaked in Shadow
Author: Ben Alderson
Publisher: Of Tomes
Source: ARC (Thank you so much to Ben for this!)
Zacriah Trovirn is concerned with two things in life: hunting and dodging Petrer, the boy who broke his heart.
Heartbreak becomes a distant concern when Zacriah is taken to the Elven capital of Thessolina, where he is forced into King Dalior’s new legion of shapeshifters. But Zacriah isn’t a shapeshifter. In truth, he doesn’t know what he is.
Zacriah joins forces with new friends and they soon find themselves embroiled in a clash between the three Elven continents. With war looming on the horizon, Zacriah must learn to use his latent power to fight and protect those he loves before they are destroyed.
Cloaked in Shadow was a really great read for me which I fully enjoyed. I unfortunately wasn’t able to read it as fast as I wanted to due to exams, but that didn’t affect my reading experience at all! It was a fun and immersive fantasy featuring elves. Other than reading Sarah J Maas’ books, I haven’t read much elven fantasy books so I was excited to dive into this. This book is also a diverse book which is great as I don’t feel that we have nearly enough diverse books as we should in the book community!
The writing in this book flowed really well, which is reflected by the story itself. It moved at a comfortable pace, not too fast or too slow, which is what I like in fantasy books. Sometimes they feel as if they’re going a bit too slow, but this was perfect. The pace definitely kept my interest in the story and I found myself racing to get to the next page. It enabled me to really take in the story along with all the descriptions in the book which helped me to imagine the scenes vividly.
The characters are diverse in more than one way. The characters are all different with all of their various personalities. Zacriah was a great character to follow and I enjoyed seeing his development throughout Cloaked in Shadow. Although Zacriah is gay, his sexuality by no means defines him or his personality which is so positive to see in YA. There was tension between Petrer and Zacriah which I found to be interesting. It’s difficult to comment on it without potentially spoiling it, but their relationship is semi-strained due to things from the past as they are from the same area and have history with each other. The frustrations that Zacriah feels are presented well. His relationship with a few of the female characters are also fun to read about. There is a slight potential romance blooming, filled with slow burning and underlying tension which was nice to see. A lot of YA books have instant love or the romance develops quite quickly but this wasn’t like that which was something else liked about this book. The prince in this book is a mysterious character who is hiding a secret of his own which I was eager to find out.
The settings we see throughout this book were interesting and, as I mentioned earlier, I was able to imagine them vividly thanks to the great descriptions in this book. I would have liked to see more of Thessolina, which I’m hoping we get to see or hear a little bit more about. I’d also love to hear more about the areas where Zacriah came from and the areas where other Elves live. The powers that many of the characters had was a big part of this book. There was shape shifting among others which definitely added a bit of fun to this book. In addition to the powers, there is also the element of a kingdom on the brink of war which I’m interested to see how it will pan out through the next book.
This was a solid fantasy debut. I already can’t wait for the second book and am looking forward to seeing where it takes us on this adventure! There is a short novella that has recently been released so I will most definitely be reading that to satisfy the wait between the books! It’s been so lovely to read a diverse book that has so many layers.