BOOK REVIEW: THE SHADOWS BETWEEN US BY TRICIA LEVENSELLER

Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:

1) Woso 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?

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The Shadows Between Us was a book I set high expectations for, unfairly so, now that I’ve read this book. The premise of a girl wooing some kind of dark King, only to kill him and take his kingdom for herself, had me itching to read this book immediately. But this books lack of innovation quickly dissipated any excitement I had to read it, and left me fairly disappointed upon finishing it.

Alessandra, cunning and ruthless as she is, with an ambition to be the ruler (of where, I couldn’t tell you.) was just very dry. I often get excited when female characters have this type of characterization, maybe that’s the Slytherin in me. But instead Alessandra felt like a caricature and there was something very unorganic about her actions and dialogue.

There’s virtually no world-building of any kind either. We get a vague explanation that The Shadow King conquered 6 kingdoms and that some are rebelling. But this story is told largely within the walls of the castle. Which gets tiresome pretty quickly if you’re not invested in the characters. This world could be Grecian inspired? I’m only assuming because some of the characters names sounded very Greek to me.

I do think this book isn’t unlike what Tricia Levenseller has written before. There were elements to it that reminded me of her previous duology Daughter of the Pirate King. Mainly that Alessandra is ruthless, has the bravado it takes to be a leader and that the romance was an enemies to lovers. Which wasn’t very enemies to lovers at all, just marketed that way for convenience it seems. It might be more of a forbidden romance? I assumed I’d just like this book because those elements didn’t sound dissimilar from her other work.

I will say, I don’t always judge books harshly for lacking innovation. I think sometimes I can find comfort in a story when I’m relying on its predictability. But I do think when predictability is a crutch, a book should make it up to me in some other way in order for me to enjoy it. However the characters, world-building and plot in this book, all left me feeling empty. Whilst there might be some truth in writing what you know or what has worked for you in the past, here it felt like this novels flaw.

In saying all of that, it’s not hard to see why people like this book. I’m sure that it’s providing comfort for people during this time as well. But I would recommend passing it up if you’re looking to be sucked into a world with intricate and innovative world-building, plot and characters.

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Is this book on your TBR? Have you read anything by Tricia Levenseller before?

– Carly

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