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Book Review: Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

I am a huge Juliet Marillier fan, so when I saw she was releasing another young adult fantasy book/series (Shadowfell) I knew I had to read it ASAP.

Shadowfell wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, and it certainly did not disappoint.

Book Review: Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

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shadowfell juliet marillier

Title & Author: Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy – Epic Fantasy

Release Date: September 11, 2012

Series: 1st in a planned trilogy

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

How I Got the Book: ARC via NetGalley


“Its name is spoken only in whispers, if the people of Alban dare to speak it at all: Shadowfell. The training ground for rebels seeking to free their land from the grip of the tyrannical king is so shrouded in mystery that most believe it to be a myth.

But for Neryn, Shadowfell’s existence is her only hope. She is penniless, orphaned, and utterly alone – and concealing a treacherous magical power that will warrant her immediate enslavement should it be revealed. She finds hope of allies in the Good Folk, fey beings whom she must pretend she cannot see and who taunt her with chatter of prophecies and tests, and in a striking, mysterious stranger, who saves her from certain death but whose motives remain unclear. She knows she should not trust anyone with her plans, but something within her longs to confide in him.

Will Neryn be forced to make the dangerous journey alone? She must reach Shadowfell, not only to avenge her family and salvage her own life, but to rescue Alban itself.”

Not Your Typical YA Fantasy

Shadowfell is one of those rare novels that is categorized as young adult but that doesn’t necessarily read as “teen only.” I think it’s because Marillier’s heroines always have a sense of maturity and wise-beyond-their-years-ness about them.

Take Shadowfell’s heroine, Neryn – she’s essentially her father’s keeper, as he’s grown more irresponsible and unwieldy since her mother and brother died. He’s a gambler and even though Neryn tries to stop him, he continually throws away their money in games of chance.

The first scene of the novel involves just that taking place: Neryn’s father has lost most of their money gambling and decides to up the stakes by offering Neryn as a prize. At that point in the book, my mind was reeling, knowing the probably fate that would befall the main character.

When her father does eventually lose, Neryn must leave with Flint – a mystery man who’s name seems to fit his personality perfectly. Although she is wary of this dark stranger, Neryn slowly (very, very slowly) trusts Flint, despite his own dark secrets.

Marillier Does it Again

From my description above, you could very well think the following: This book probably involves insta-love and/or is all about romance. If you did think those things, you’re wrong. (I mean that in the best way 🙂 ).

Marillier always seems to make her books more about growth and independence more than about romance and falling in love. Don’t get me wrong, there is some serious romance in Shadowfell, but the story focuses on Neryn learning about her arcane powers and leading her people in a fight against the tyrannical rule of the kingdom.

Also, let me just say, the romance in this book is slow and steady. Like, it almost has a glacial pace – BUT, I loved it. It was a nice change.


I loved Shadowfell. Although it takes a slower pace at times – especially as Neryn roams around the forests of Alban endlessly – it’s worth the investment of time. For a great epic fantasy and the start of a new triology complete with the Good Folk and budding romance, pick up Shadowfell.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.