The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller (2020)
YA Fiction | Fantasy Romance
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?
pooled ink Review:
This was one of my top anticipated releases for 2020 so I was thrilled when my library bought a copy and I could finally read it! A Slytherin romance?? Yes please! Two villains falling in love?? YES PLEASE. Everything about this book from the cover to the description to the advanced reviews had me intrigued and impatiently waiting to grab a copy. Unfortunately I seem to love the idea more than the execution…
Described as a “Slytherin romance” it certainly has two dark characters allying for their hidden independent schemes, power plays, and appreciation for a pretty face, but will they fall in love despite their desire otherwise? I don’t care.
The world was interesting enough I suppose (though pretty much just a basic YA fantasy template) and there was a decently interesting cast of characters. Kallias, the male lead and Shadow King, managed to be alluring despite his faults and had a perfect amount of mystery around him that had me eager to find out more (What are those shadows that surround him? How does he walk through walls? Who murdered the royals? What does he know? What does he want? What is he thinking?). He definitely has moments of flatness but he had enough overall to keep me willing to wonder. What killed this book for me was the female lead whose name I cannot for the life of me remember (I literally just looked back at the description to find it. It’s Alessandra. Which is a lovely name! So why can’t I remember it???)
Oh Alessandra…I really do not like you haha. When a book is told from the main character’s point of view, it’s crucial that they be likable and interesting. I don’t even mean likable as in good or protagonist. They can be a willing, blood-thirsty assassin for all I care, they simply must be likable. Are they witty? Clever? Talented? Surprising? Psycho? Loyal? Mysterious? Badass? Etc. They can be a bona fide villain so long as there’s something about them that makes me sit up and pay attention and root for them even if I shouldn’t (Example: I really like the character John Smith in the TV show adaptation of Man in the High Castle and he’s a freaking Nazi sooooo that’s uncomfortable lol but despite being a straight up bad guy to the end, I like him?? He’s a clever villain who loves his family. It’s his one redeeming quality and it’s that element that makes him an interesting complex character instead of a dull stock character and it’s what makes people cling to him despite everything saying we should want him dead in the first episode.). With Alessandra there is nothing to cling to, nothing to root for, nothing to watch with morbid fascination or curiosity. She’s simply a shallow, power-hungry, gold-digging b*tch and that’s simply not enough to make me care enough to endure 300+ pages of her stupid scheming. She isn’t likable and she certainly isn’t interesting.
Truthfully I made it through only six chapters before switching to skimming before then skipping entire chunks finally giving up on the whole endeavor. I kept looking ahead to see if there was hope to be found, something interesting to hang on for, but nope. Nothing.
In the end, what I’d hoped would be a fantastically dark read, (for me) ended up being just another cookie-cutter YA Fantasy novel churned out by the publishing business except this time I can’t even say I at least liked the characters. I’ve read mediocre before and genuinely enjoyed it because of the main characters but to not even have that to invest me? *sigh* Ah well. But hey, I’ve seen loads of great reviews for this book so I’m obviously not in the majority on this and as always please remember that this is just my insignificant opinion and even though I didn’t like it, it could become your next favorite read so give it a try.
The Shadows Between Us proposes a plot that will have you sitting up and eager, hungry for the darkness and intrigue it promises, but its execution proves to be as cookie-cutter as most of its fellows in the genre simply coated in a darker, bitter icing.
Meet Tricia Levenseller!
Initially from a small town in Oregon, Tricia now lives next to the Rocky Mountains with her bossy dog, Rosy. She received her degree in English Language and editing and is thrilled that she never has to read a textbook again. When she’s not writing or reading, Tricia enjoys putting together jigsaw puzzles, playing volleyball, playing OVERWATCH, and watching shows while eating extra-buttered popcorn.