Spoiler Free Review
Title: The Shattered Court
Author: M.J. Scott
Series or Standalone: Series ‘The Four Arts’ (Book #1)
Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Romance & Witches
Publication Date: April 28th 2015
Star Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Full disclosure, I went into this book believing that it was fantasy romance. And I went solely into this book for that fact alone. I am a reader who loves romance in a fantasy context, and was so excited. Unfortunately, I found The Shattered Court to be an underwhelming instalment in the genre.
The Shattered Court is the first book in M.J. Scotts series The Four Arts. We follow Lady Sophia Kendall, a lady of the royal court of Anglion and thirty-second in line to the throne. The royal women of Anglion manifest powers upon their 21st birthday, that enable them to practice the tamer magics of the earth, but other magics are considered dangerous and forbidden.
When Sophia’s powers manifest stronger than she ever imagined they would, she is inextricably linked to her protector by happenstance; Lieutenant Cameron Mackenzie As a witch unbound by marriage rites, Sophia is not only a threat to the established order of her country, but is also a weapon for those who seek to destroy it.
There were a few aspects of this book that were working against my enjoyment of it. Firstly, my enjoyment of this novel could have significantly improved had there been more dialogue to balance out all the prose. Had the prose been more substantially useful this opinion might change.
However dialogue in this instance would show the reader more of who these characters are. As well as showing us a bit more of the relationship between them. Sophie often says she and Lady Eloise are close, but the actions and dialogue hardly show that. I really would’ve love more to be shown than told.
Secondly (perhaps most disappointedly because it was the reason I picked up the book) was that the romance was incredibly lacking in substance. A bucket load more of romantic tension, angst, whatever you want to call it… should’ve been present. For a book to be marketed as fantasy romance… well there is arguably little of the latter.
Not even just romantic tension, but our two main characters hardly flirt or even talk. How are you supposed to build up chemistry without all of that? I don’t think the ‘dire’ situation they were face with alone was enough to convince me they’re a good coupling. It really is unfortunate too, because I think it had great potential. The situation that lead to Sophie and Cameron becoming romantically involved was such a good scenario. It simply wasn’t executed well.
M.J. Scott is a great writer too and I wanted to enjoy this. But I found the plot was incredibly lacking alongside the characters and romance. Most of the prose felt like it was of little importance and didn’t seem relevant. Safe to say, it was hard to keep my interest. I couldn’t tell you who the antagonist of the story is either. Whilst there were strong leads – two particular characters seemed distrustful – it isn’t definitive.
I’d like to give the sequel a chance because I love witches. The cliffhanger seemed to suggest that the magic systems would be explored in the sequel. Yet considering all elements were lacking here I’m not compelled to pick it up soon.
Let me know if you have any good fantasy romance books you’d recommend, I’m always on the lookout. 📚✨