Release date: February 9, 2016
Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.
But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.
With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.
Reign of Shadows has quite a different feeling than I would expect from a fantasy retelling. It starts off like Rapunzel, then there is a bit of zombie horror, and surviving to find the elusive colony free of the creatures, against a backdrop of adventure, a sprinkling of Snow White and some slow burn romance. Luna was born when a great eclipse befell the world – plunging it into a so-far 17 year darkness, leaving an eternal night broken only by an hour of haze (which I expect is around noon). In a world full of darkness, other things evolve, darker things, dangerous things such as the dwellers who are some sort of zombie-ish creatures that can attack, eat and infect people. Luna has been cooped up in her tower since the night she was taken from the palace by her two caretakers, but she longs for the Outside, despite the dangers.
When Fowler comes across the vicinity of the tower, she helps him out at a crucial moment. However, soon she has to leave, and along with him move towards the promised safe land, Allu, which is said to be free of dwellers. Luna has been hiding a secret – she is the princess and is being hunted by the current King, the high chancellor who usurped the power on the night of the eclipse. Fowler is also on the run from the capital, for his own reasons, which I kinda predicted but lets leave that under spoiler cut now, shall we? So, while he is trying not to feel (conceal, don’t feel, don’t let her knoooow) anything for her because of baggage in his past, she is also learning about the world and the dangers it carries, especially to her. She is pretty special, and brave despite her shortcomings, and survives in a world that would kill a regular person. He, too, recognizes this in her, but as he falls in love with her, he also starts to grow protective towards her.
Their dynamic starts with an unwilling partnership, and then mistrust from her over him leaving her in the lurch, then lots of sexual tension and finally the moment that the book ends on – a devastating abrupt cliffhanger. Honestly, I was a bit outraged at that! Thank goodness this is a series, because I am so excited for what comes next. There is the Oracle, and why Luna is so special; she definitely is tied to the eclipse. As for tone of the book, it is definitely more dystopian than fantasy, and I loved the addition of that the different creatures. I was still a bit confused how a world can thrive without the sun – a constant eclipse would mean things would cool down significantly, right? Not to mention most vegetation would die off pretty soon; them lasting for over a decade seemed to stretch it a bit, but I think this may be more of a magical eclipse than a literal one. Nevertheless, this book had me hooked, and devouring the words – the writing is exquisite, especially in Luna’s POV, which is distinct because of her. Definitely recommended read.
Received a free galley from HarperTeen, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.