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The Shadow Reader

The Shadow Reader

4.3 47
by Sandy Williams

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A Houston college student, McKenzie Lewis can track fae by reading the shadows they leave behind. For years she has been working for the fae King, tracking rebels who would claim the Realm. Her job isn't her only secret. She's in love with Kyol, the King's sword-master-but human and fae relationships are forbidden. When McKenzie is captured by Aren, the fierce


A Houston college student, McKenzie Lewis can track fae by reading the shadows they leave behind. For years she has been working for the fae King, tracking rebels who would claim the Realm. Her job isn't her only secret. She's in love with Kyol, the King's sword-master-but human and fae relationships are forbidden. When McKenzie is captured by Aren, the fierce rebel leader, she learns that not everything is as she thought. And McKenzie must decide who to trust and where she stands in the face of a cataclysmic civil war.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In talented newcomer Williams’s fantasy debut, 26-year-old Houston college student McKenzie Lewis finds her studies interrupted yet again when war escalates in Faerie and its king demands she use her mystic gift for tracking the rebels through the magical fissures they use to travel between lands and worlds. Kidnapped by the rebels, McKenzie is torn between their arguments and her loyalty to the faerie king as well as between her illicit romance with the king’s swordmaster, Kyol, and the feelings stirred by the handsome rebel leader Aren. Williams portrays a realistically shaded faerie realm in economic and magical turmoil compounded by human technology and the atrocities committed by both sides in a brutal civil war. The only hiccup is an angst-filled love triangle that distracts from the action and narrowly avoids a descent into pure soap opera. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
"Featuring a gutsy heroine and plenty of fay lore, this urban fantasy debut should appeal to fans of Seanan McGuire's October Daye novels." ---Library Journal
Library Journal
College student McKenzie Lewis, born with the ability to both see and track the fae, works for Kyol, sword-master of the king, to hunt down rebels seeking to overthrow the Realm. When she falls into the hands of rebel leader Aren, she begins to see the world of the fae as something very different from what she has previously known. Featuring a gutsy heroine and plenty of fay lore, this urban fantasy debut should appeal to fans of Seanan McGuire's October Daye novels.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Shadow Reader , #1
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Sales rank:
File size:
373 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

My skin tingles a moment before a slash of white light flashes at the front of the lecture hall. I grit my teeth and keep my eyes locked on my scantron, refusing to acknowledge the fae entering my world through that fissure. I don’t give a damn if it’s the king himself, I will pass this test tonight.

I darken in C on my answer sheet and then read the next question.


It’s Kyol. Of course the Court would send him.

“McKenzie,” he says. “We must go.” No one else can hear or see him even though he towers over my professor, who stands less than two feet to his left. All the other students remain bowed over their desks, completely focused on their final exams. I grip my pencil and bubble in another circle.

The fae climbs the steps to my fifth-row seat. Still not meeting his eyes, I shake my head. I told him—I told all of them—not to call on me this week, but none of the fae understand why I need this degree, not when the Court takes care of all my needs. I tried to explain I’m human. I have human dreams and need a human life, and it shouldn’t take anyone eight years to earn a Bachelor of Arts in English. They hadn’t listened. At least, Kyol hadn’t.

Not now! I want to scream, but even the softest whisper will disturb the quiet in the lecture hall. I stare down at my exam, letting my long hair brush the top of my desk. It forms a brown curtain, cutting off my view of Kyol as I reread question ten. The Court’s war can wait until I finish.

Kyol lays a hand on my shoulder, and a pleasant warmth expands beneath the thin strap of my purple cami. If we were alone, I’d lean into his touch, soak in his heat, his scent—soak in him—but not here, not now in the middle of a test I have to pass. I shift, trying to get away. When his hand remains, I slam my fist down on my desk.

My classmates turn their heads to stare and Dr. Embry frowns. Fantastic.

“Number ten,” I say with a nervous laugh. “It’s a doozy.” It isn’t. It’s on the works of C. S. Lewis. Easy. I bubble in A.

Kyol pulls on my shoulder and I squirm again. There’s no way in hell I’m flunking this course a third time. I need it to graduate, and I don’t care if Kyol drops his invisibility in front of all my classmates, my ass isn’t budging until I finish my test and triple check my answers.

“We’ve no time to waste,” Kyol says. “The rebels have found you.”

I suck in a frigid breath, hold it as I close my eyes for one brief, fragile moment, then I exhale, stuff my pencil into my backpack, and stand.

“I’m sorry,” I say to my surprised professor. “I have to go.”

By the time I turn to hurry up the steps, Kyol’s already waiting by the exit. I brace for the surge of emotion I know is coming and finally meet his silver eyes. Most people don’t see past his hard, unyielding scowl, but I do. I’ve seen his eyes soften and sparkle in the moonlight. I’ve seen a smile crack those lips, heard a laugh ring from that broad chest. And yet, even in those few, untroubled moments, there’s always a certain gravitas to him, like he could stand in the middle of a battle and part the enemy’s line with one cool glare.

He reaches for the door. I lock down my feelings and cut him off, not wanting my classmates to see it swing open seemingly on its own. He glances down at me, and a bolt of blue lightning skitters from his jaw to his temple before disappearing into his dark hair. Another bolt zigzags across the hand he rests on his sword’s hilt. They’re chaos lusters, visual reminders that the fae don’t belong in this world, and they’re beautiful, mesmerizing. With his quiet, strong confidence, he’s mesmerizing.

“Where should I go?” I ask after the door thumps shut.

“The River Bend.” He seizes my arm and pulls me after him. God, he’s really worried. Just how close are the rebels? I scan up and down the hallway, but there’s only one other person in sight, a student asleep against the wall, newspaper pillowed under his head. I wish I could be oblivious like him, but I can’t. If the rebels don’t kill me on sight, they’ll use me to hunt down the Court’s officers one by one, just like I’ve hunted them down over the years.

My skin tingles again. I tense, then relax when three fae wearing the Court’sjaedric armor join us, stepping through fissures to take up position around me. Escape would be easy if I could travel through one of those strips of narrow light, but I’m only human. I can’t use a fissure unless it’s opened at a gate and a fae escorts me through: not if I want to survive the trip.

Kyol speaks to his soldiers in their language. They nod, acknowledging his orders, and we set off down the hall. I shove my worry aside and hurry to keep up with their quick strides, telling myself everything will be okay, Kyol will take care of me. He always takes care of me.

Outside, a faint orange and pink haze smears the lowest portion of the sky. The growing darkness triggers the campus lights. They clank on, illuminating the faces of the students sitting on cement benches or walking alone or in groups of two or three. Even after dusk, this part of campus is always crowded because of the library. The River Bend Gate is about a mile northeast of it, past the construction for a new engineering building.

I hitch my backpack up on my shoulders. It’s not heavy. I left most of my books at home and brought only the essentials: my English Lit notes, sketchbook, cell phone, and the small, drawstring pouch that contains a handful of imprinted anchor-stones. I’ll need the latter to pass through the gate unless Kyol gives me a new stone to use.

I jog to keep up. When students start to stare, I try to free my hand from Kyol’s. It’s not completely unusual to see someone run across campus, but my gait is awkward because he’s pulling me, and I’m sure they’re wondering what the hell I’m doing with my arm.

“Kyol,” I whisper.

His gaze darts to the humans who don’t see me holding his hand; they see me clutching wildly at the air. His jaw clenches before he lets me go. “I’m sorry,kaesha.”

I catch my breath. Kaesha. It’s a term of endearment he calls me only when we’re alone. I don’t think he knows he said it—there’s no hitch in his stride as he leads me across the courtyard—but if his soldiers overhear, if they report back to the king . . .

An unnatural wind cuts through the previously still air, rustling through the trees and skittering a soda can across the cement. The hair at the nape of my neck stands on end and goose bumps prickle across my skin. The rebels are here. They’re watching. They’re hiding. They’re—

Arrows whistle through the air. Light erupts around me as the Court fae vanish into their fissures. The arrows disappear when they touch the light, too, swallowed up by the In-Between. Only one hits its target: the shoulder of a fae who reacted an instant too late. With a grunt of pain, he escapes through his fissure. He’s the only one who doesn’t return. The others reappear with reinforcements as the rebels release another barrage.

“Go!” Kyol shoves me forward, but I spin to run back to the English building. No way am I running across the open courtyard.

More arrows fire through the air. I don’t see if any hit the fae—I’m struggling to get past Kyol—but I hear the sound of more fissures opening. Each time the bright lights slash through the atmosphere, it sounds like someone’s ripping a thick cloth in two. Add to that noise the fact that my heartbeat is thudding in my ears, and I almost don’t hear Kyol’s words.

“You must make it to the gate, McKenzie. You must!”

Instinct screams for me to get inside the building, but I trust Kyol with my life, so I stop fighting and glance over my shoulder. Arrows still fly through the air. A few seconds after they leave the rebels’ bows, they’ll become visible to normal humans so if a fae misses his target or doesn’t hit a fissure, people will see the bolts embed in trees or the ground or skidding across the cement. None of the students are reacting, though. The rebels are being careful.

I take a small step forward. Some of the Court fae have fissured to the rooftops to fight; others remain on the ground, darting in and out of their fissures in smooth, defensive dances. They’re drawing the rebels’ attacks, but it’s a long way to the gate. They’ll tire before I get there. Some of them might die. Kyol might die.

“I’ll be fine,” he says, reading the concern in my expression. He cups my cheek in his hand. “As long as you’re safe, I’ll be fine.”

I bite my lip and nod. Of course he’ll be okay. He’s the king’s sword-master. He can take care of himself. Besides, the fae will need me if any of the rebels are illusionists. Only a human with the Sight can see through that magic.

Ignoring the stares students throw my way, I take a deep breath, grit my teeth, and run. Kyol and I have worked together for ten years—we’re tuned in to how the other moves, how we think and react—so when a rebel charges straight toward us and Kyol doesn’t turn his way, I know he can’t see him.

“Ten o’clock. Now!” I say.

Kyol swings as ordered, forcing the rebel to parry. Touch breaks a fae’s illusion, so as soon as their weapons clash, Kyol can see him. His blade cuts into the rebel’s arm three moves later, but it’s not a killing blow. The illusionist fissures away.

Kyol returns to my side. I flinch when an arrow almost hits him, flinch again when another one whizzes past my face, disappearing into another Court fae’s fissure. I want to duck and dodge the rebels’ attack, but that will slow us down and draw even more attention from the humans. I’ve already lied my way through one psychiatric evaluation; I don’t think I can lie my way through another.

We sprint past the library. Ahead, a metal fence blocks off the construction site to the new engineering building. I veer left to go around it, but a wall of fissures forms in my path. Six fae appear. All rebels.

I tell Kyol their number. None of them must be hidden by illusion because he doesn’t hesitate. His blade carves through the air as he charges the rebels, but he can’t occupy all six at once. Two of them break away from the others and move toward me.

I turn and run. To hell with going around the fence. I leap up and grab its top. My tennis shoes struggle for a foothold in the metal links and the wire cuts into my palms. I manage to pull myself over the top, but I land hard on my right hip. Ignoring the sharp burst of pain, I scurry back to my feet and sprint forward again. When a fissure opens in front of me, I almost run into it, but Kyol steps out, stopping me. Saving me.

He extinguishes the fissure and then shoves me behind him. Metal clanks against metal as he takes on my pursuers. I dash under the exterior scaffolding and through the doorless entrance to the engineering building. The construction company’s already erected the interior walls on the first floor. I run through what will be the common area, almost make it to the other side, but five fissures open in a semicircle in front of me.

Five rebel fae appear. I’m no military genius, but this is clearly an ambush. I’ve been herded here, lured like a sheep to the wolf’s den.


Even if the fae in the center of the group hadn’t spoken, my attention would be riveted to him. He’s tall, taller than Kyol, but not as thickly muscled, and his silver eyes, while intense, have a lighter, livelier hue to them. He’s wearing a poorly made, dark jaidric cuirass over a once-white tunic, loose gray pants, and scuffed black boots. His golden-blond hair looks like it’s been chopped off with a knife or, perhaps, the sword in his hand. Despite his haphazard appearance, he’s confident, he’s alert, and he’s completely focused on me, his prey.

“McKenzie Lewis.” A bolt of blue lightning flashes down his neck. He cocks his head slightly. A moment later, his sword-point dips and something changes in his posture.

“Are you hurt?” he asks.

I follow his gaze down to a dark stain on my purple cami. I press a hand against my stomach. It’s warm, wet.

“Are you hurt?” the rebel asks again.

No. I’m not. I don’t know where the blood came from. No one’s touched me. No one but Kyol . . .

Kyol. Oh, God. He’s hurt.

I spin toward the exit, trying to get back to him, but two rebels move to block my path, their swords held ready to strike.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” the fae’s leader says. “I’d like to talk to you.”

He takes a step toward me. I take a step back.

“Look.” He sheaths his sword, then holds his hands out, palms up like he’s harmless.

Screw him. I won’t let them take me. I sprint for my only remaining escape route, the metal staircase in the building’s northeast corner.

My backpack bounces as I run up the steps. I reach the second floor before I hear the rebels coming after me. I pause to consider my options, realize I have none.

“Shit!” I have nowhere to go but up, and once I’m up, I’ll have nowhere to go at all. I sprint to the next floor because I don’t know what else to do. I can’t turn around. I can’t stop. They’re right behind me.

“Shit, shit, shit!”

My legs are burning by the time I reach the fourth level. I can’t make it up the next flight of stairs so I run across this floor instead, watching my feet as I step over stacks of two-by-fours and through the wooden frames of the building’s future walls. The sun’s set. It’s dark, but I’m able to make out the outline of a piece of machinery in what will eventually be a hallway. I duck down behind it, praying I’m out of sight in time.

Soft footsteps walk across the cement.

My hair clings to my face and neck. I swipe it out of my eyes and search for some way out of this. There’s an opening at the end of the hallway for what I assume will be a floor-to-ceiling window. An orange plastic safety fence runs across the gap, and seven or eight feet away from the edge of the building is the white, moonlit arm of a tower crane.

Seven or eight feet. Can I jump that?

“You’re making this more difficult than it needs to be.”

I flinch at the voice. He’s close. He knows I’m here.

I grit my teeth and refuse to panic. I don’t think the rebels will kill me immediately. They’ll try to use me. They’ll try to turn me against the Court, make me read the shadows. They probably won’t hurt me until they’re certain I won’t cooperate. I should have a few seconds to make my move.

I wipe sweat from my face and focus on the crane outside the building. Seven or eight feet. I have to jump that.

I don’t give myself time to second-guess my decision. I sprint the distance to the plastic fence, scramble over it—

“No, wait!”

—and jump, but the rebel grabs my backpack.

I slip. I scream.

My fingers tangle in the plastic fence.

I fall.

I hit the side of the building and keep screaming.

My throat’s raw by the time I realize I’m not dead. I’m hanging between the third and fourth floors, holding on to the plastic fence like my life depends on it because . . . well, it does.

A chuckle draws my attention upward. The damn fae peers over the edge, looking all jolly and relaxed.

“I can’t believe you held on,” he says.

The moonlight highlights the planes of his face and even though I’m dangling three and a half stories above the ground, I’m suddenly more pissed than afraid. I don’t recognize him, but my gut tells me who he is: Aren, son of Jorreb, the false-blood who’s determined to overthrow the king. And he’s laughing at me.

The plastic fence stretches. My fingers cramp, but I’m determined to hang on forever if it keeps me away from the killer above.

Something snaps loose from the wall and I drop another foot.

“Whoa, easy there. Easy,” Aren says.

“Back off!” I mean to yell the words, but they come out as a hoarse croak. I know I should be begging for his help, but a part of me believes Kyol will rescue me. I choose to ignore the part that believes he’s dead.

“Sure,” Aren says in an infuriatingly devil-may-care voice. “No problem, but how about you give me your hand first? There’s no need for you to fall.”

“I won’t help you!”

“I’m not asking for your help. Just give me your h—”

The plastic rips free from the wall. I scream again and tense, bracing for impact.

“McKenzie. Hey, look up here, McKenzie. I’ve got you.”

Heart thudding, I look up. He does have me. Sort of. He’s dangling over the edge of the building, his left hand wrapped in the fence, his right hand grasping the opening’s frame.

“Stop kicking,” he says. I stop, not realizing I was moving at all.

“Good. Now, you’re going to have to grab my legs. I think the fence will rip if I try to pull you up. Can you do that?”

I nod. I don’t care who he is anymore. I don’t want to die. I want to live. I want to be normal, graduate college, get a real job, and spend time with some real-life friends. Hell, I want to have sex at least once before I croak.

The thought of death pulls my gaze toward the concrete.

“No, don’t look down, McKenzie. Look up here. Look at me.”

I do as he says. His eyes are bright but soft, like silver sand with tiny shards of diamonds, and his expression is serious but not strained. The last part impresses me. I might be thin, but I’m not dainty, and he’s supporting both of our weights.

“Pull yourself up.” There’s a bit more urgency in his voice now. He must feel the plastic stretching, too.

I muster the strength to reach up and grab his legs. As soon as I wrap my arms around him, he releases the fence. With a grunt, he pulls himself up and over the edge. I scrape along the side of the building until he grabs my arm, dragging me to safety.

I lay facedown on the cement floor. My arms feel like spaghetti and I’m shaking, but I can’t be weak right now. The rebels will demand a high price for saving my life, and I have no intention of sticking around to pay it.

I lurch to my feet, but my knees buckle.

“Are you okay?” Aren asks.

I ignore him and rise again. This time, I manage to keep my balance. It doesn’t matter, though. Three rebels block the staircase. One of them speaks in Fae.

“The police are coming,” Aren translates behind me. No doubt my screams have brought them. I consider screaming again, but Aren grabs my arm.

Lightning flashes from his skin to mine. I can’t shake loose. He wrestles me to a corner and, when he presses his lean body against mine, my brain stops functioning. The lightning between our skin increases, becoming almost volatile, and my body flushes with heat.

“The police can’t help you,” Aren says. I’m sure that smirk on his face is due to my obvious discomfort. He feels the electricity between us the same as I do, but he’s not bothered by it.

“Let go!” I demand, trying to free my arms.

Flashlight beams precede the cops up the stairs.

“Be quiet. Be still,” Aren whispers.

I twist. I almost slip free, but one strong arm locks around my waist. He covers my mouth with his other hand.

Stupid move on his part. I bite down hard.

He doesn’t grimace, but his smirk vanishes.

“Sorry about this,” he whispers in my ear.

Pain explodes above my temple. I totter, but don’t black out. My knees aren’t working, though. Aren’s holding me up. I’m able to focus on his face well enough to see surprise in his eyes. Then the surprise disappears. His lips thin as he raises the weapon again. It’s a dagger. He swings its hilt down a second time.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"Featuring a gutsy heroine and plenty of fay lore, this urban fantasy debut should appeal to fans of Seanan McGuire's October Daye novels." —-Library Journal

Meet the Author

Sandy Williams writes urban fantasy novels and is the author of the Shadow Reader series.

Amy Rubinate has narrated over 140 audiobooks and has won multiple AudioFile Earphones Awards. She has a degree in oral interpretation of literature and has won national awards for poetry reading. Amy has also narrated many interactive children's books and provided character voices for toys and video games.

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The Shadow Reader 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was so well done!!! Great characters and story. This author just got added to my must read list. I want a book two, now!!!
harstan More than 1 year ago
Twentyish human Houston resident McKenzie Lewis English major is frustrated with the intrusions into her obtaining her degree as eight years for a BA is ridiculous. While she takes an exam, the sword-master Kyol her Fae lover arrives. She reminds him that she told the Faerie to leave her alone this week. Kyol tells her they need her now as overt civil war in Faerie seems imminent. McKenzie knows her gift of tracking the fissures left behind by Fae travelers makes her in demand. The king orders McKenzie to find the rebels. Instead the rebels kidnap her. Aren the rebel leader makes a just plea for her to join their side. While McKenzie considers their argument and is attracted to Aren, she has pledged her loyalty to the king and cannot turn away her taboo love of Kyol. The Shadow Reader is a wonderful urban fantasy in which human technology has intruded on Faerie and realism is anchored by war atrocities committed by both sides in the name of righteousness. The story line is fast-paced while the female protagonist wants to stay out of the fight but becomes the rope in an ugly tug of war with collateral damage accepted by each combatant as the end justifies the mean. Although the romantic relationships confronting McKenzie with Aren and Kyol seem more a forced requirement, fans will want to enter the Sandy Williams realm. Harriet Klausner
KasieF More than 1 year ago
Loved this book! It gave me a 'book hangover' so I read it twice in a week. I cannot wait for the second one in October!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am looking forward to the next book!
lizziefx More than 1 year ago
I read a lot so I am always looking for new authors. In this case I picked an author that can really craft a story and kept me entertained through the entire book. This is book one in the series and you can bet I will be back for book two!!!
Candace-LoveyDoveyBooks More than 1 year ago
Sandy Williams reminds serious readers why Urban Fantasy is a genre to stick with. Her hot heroine McKenzie Lewis is a one of a kind shadow reader, tracking fae through fissures all while trying to earn a college degree. Caught in the middle of a war between the Court fae and rebels, McKenzie stands her ground with the nobles until rebel Aren gets into her head. The Shadow Reader is one novel of which I can safely say that I loved each and every character. Even the evil ones were perfectly malicious! The first person narrative centers the focus of the novel on McKenzie, but there are about 12 characters moving the story along with their reoccurring roles or consistent presence. The many characters introduced aren't wasted in the story and it never feels like Williams spends incessant time describing them or trying to give them a brighter spotlight than they deserve. Williams is a smooth storyteller. She doesn't get caught up in too many action scenes or history of the fae. It's fortunate because I can only imagine how much history is certainly involved in the political aspect of the war between court fae and the rebels. As the story progresses Williams hands out pieces of information here and there, but even before the end of the plot all those pieces have completed the big picture. A big worry I usually have when it comes to fantasy novels is the names. I'm so glad to have been able to sail through The Shadow Reader with minimum issues with the fae names and language. Most of the words just roll right of the tongue and give the writing a romantic tone. I am one hundred percent committed to The Shadow Reader Series. I ache with excitement to see what happens to McKenzie now that the war has taken a sharp turn and loyalties have become an important factor to the fae. Book 2 in the series, The Shattered Dark, has big expectations to meet. Originally posted on Lovey Dovey Books
terilhack More than 1 year ago
Trying to get through college and survive in the normal world is hard enough, but McKenzie Lewis toe the line through the mundane and the fae with her tracking abilities. As the knowledge of her astute skills pass through the warring kingdom, McKenzie's status as a rare Shadow Reader are getting around and as the opposing factions square off against each other McKenzie and her abilities will be coveted by all. What was really amazing about the Shadow Reader was the world building and the characters. McKenzie is a strong willed character fighting for what she believes is right in her helping the fae, or really being in service of the fae, and as the plots thicken and McKenzie realizes the truth in what is being said about the court she held high from the rebel forces MxKenzie changes her alliances at the possible cost of her life. What you cannot have have, then no one else will seems to be a common motto along the lines of some fae. With a pair of leading male characters, McKenzie has to find the truth that she believes in herself and what she believes is worth fighting for because there is are fae on both sides of the fight that she has feelings for. Will their want of her talents override McKenzie's safety, or will McKenzie's power turn the tides in the civil war among the fae. Shadow Reader will catch readers in the middle of a war that started long before McKenzie came into her powers but which could cause her destruction. As if living and finding love in the real world was hard enough, imagine finding love in the arms of a rebel and a swords master of the Court, that is McKenzie’s dilemma as long as she can survive.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just deleted my last (and longer) review by accident so i'll keep this brief. Its definately worth the time of both urban fatasu fans and romance fans alike. I read a lot of these type of books and can say whole heartedly that this author avoids the standard pitfalls including a too uber chic main character (i like it when fairly normal people get involved in extrordinary situations) of yet another other worldly organization designed to save the world ( i always wonder how many of those there can actually successfully exsist in my imagination). This was a good start to a new take on fae/human conflicts and i hope the author has another planned. The three main characters were developed pretty well but i didn't quite understand all the rebels gripes although i get that she was trying to keep both sides viable as part of the plot. I'm glad i gave this book a shot and will keep an eye open for any more by this author
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love supernatural reads and this one is pretty great. The characters are loveable even though I found myself screaming at the sheer stupidity of the main character. I won't offer spoilers, but it literally takes 200 pages for her to believe "something" when all evidence points to that "something" being true. Besides that there was one other plot hole I couldn't wrap my head around. Again no spoilers, but the question of why was there a war to begin with was not sufficiently answered for me or rather why was At roth a bad king. Anyway, not to ramble. I enjoyed the book even with the two points I just mentioned out there.... It has action, fighting, magic, and no less than hot men in love with the main character. The only thing I kept wishing for was the her V card finally get revoked. I mean there was no illusions to sex at all. Definitely a PG read. Still good.......
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BookfiendNY More than 1 year ago
Didn't find it that interesting compacted to a few other writers out there. Not enough action in the book for me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was looking for something different and found it! The main character, McKenzie, is a shadow reader. She is human, a student and has the ability to read the shadows left behind by fae moving across worlds and distances. These shadows tell McKenzie the path or route the fae took as well as the final destination. This ability is rare, but sought after by both sides of the warring fae. For ten years, McKenzie has worked with Kyol reading shadows, giving information to help the good guys win although she has gotten little information in return. Kyol is her escape from her normal life, someone only she sees, someone that relies on her, someone she fell for years ago. With the war escalating, McKenzie is drawn more heavily into the fae world and becomes captured by the opposing side. Aren, leader of rebels, teaches her more of fae politics, fae nature, and fae language than she has learned in the ten years with Kyol. But Aren is the bad guy right? Isn't Aren on the wrong side of the war? McKenzie is finally given enough information to truely make the kind of difference in fae life she can be proud of. So which side will she choose to help?
LindaTownsend More than 1 year ago
The Shadow Reader is an awesome debut novel by Sandy Williams! It's an urban fantasy with a kick-ass character. McKenzie is 16 years old when the fae find her. She wants to be normal but she can read the fae's shadow trails which makes her extremely valuable to the fae. She had been a star student but, once the fae entered her life, her grades plummeted and friends dropped her like a hot potato. Compounding her problem, she was taken by a rogue fae who abused her. She was rescued by the fairy king and has been working for his court ever since. She's even fallen in love with Kyol, the king's sword master, who serves as her contact and handler with all things related to the fae. After 10 years of working for the fae, McKenzie is fed up and plans to "retire." She's taking a final exam at college that will allow her to get a job and separate from the fae when Kyol appears and urges her to follow him as the rebel fae have learned of her identity. As they're running, McKenzie is abducted by a rebel group led by Aren. All she can think of is that she must escape and get back to Kyol. This story grabbed me from the 1st page and never let go. I would have rated it 5 stars but I didn't really care for the love triangle. I loved the characters but I wanted to shake McKenzie so many times! Aren rocked! Kyol... not so much... I've already got the next book in this series on my nightstand. 4 Captivating Stars!!!!!
Candacemom2two More than 1 year ago
This was a happy dance book. One that I kinda want to squeal randomly about and dance around the house. Yep. It was that good. I've gotten lucky with the adult books I've been reviewing lately {well, aside from the couple I can't get into that I've put aside for now. We won't talk about those for now though.} and gotten some winners! This book started out with action right from the start. I was sucked right in without a bit of difficulty. It was when I was a few chapters in that I started to get just a little nervous because McKenzie was getting on my nerves and not enough was happening. I was irritated because she was so darn stubborn! I just wanted things to sort of take another direction I guess. But then as the story progressed I discovered that McKenzie was exactly how she needed to be. How she should be. It was what made her her and made the story become what it became. And OMG, it became CRAZY FREAKING GOOD! There was pretty much constant action through the whole book {just that one slow part towards the beginning that was kind of setting up the rest of the story}. It was totally and completely unputdownable. I honestly could have sat and read the book straight through if my kids had let me. Usually adult books take me 2-3 days to read. This took me one. Holy hotness, this book had some of the yummiest men to ever grace the pages of books. Sandy did a brilliant job in describing them and their mannerisms {which seems to be what brings men to a higher hotness level for me}. I'm afraid to say much about them because that's the awesomeness that is this book, we don't know who is good and who is bad. We think one is good but don't have a chance to fall in love before we meet one that's suppose to be the bad guy but is so easy to fall for. I mean, I certainly thought I knew exactly who was bad and who was good but I think it was all based on who I fell in love with. Yep, the hottest one wins! And really we don't know for sure and the twists and turns thrown in do such a great job of keeping us on our toes and trying to figure it all out. Now McKenzie, she is a firecracker! A stubborn one who is determined to not let anyone screw her over. And she'll do anything, anything to make sure she's not taken advantage of. She doesn't trust easy and when she starts to soften up she just forces it back down and then often makes HORRIBLE decisions! But sometimes good ones too. Like when trying to save someones life. She's quick in deciding she's willing to do whatever it takes. She certainly took me on a rollercoaster ride and I didn't know if I wanted to hug her or slap her most of the time. But when the book ended I knew I loved her. Even in all her stubborn stupidity she was doing what she could to protect herself and those she loved. I could ramble on and on about this book. I loved it so freaking much! But I think I've gotten my point across but if I haven't, go read this book now! It has phenomenal world building, characters with spark, and constant action that will keep your eyes glued to that page! This is one book that I'll be sharing with people {or more like forcing into everyone's hands while screaming "READ THIS FREAKING BOOK!"} probably for years to come.
NookMel More than 1 year ago
For lovers of Illona Andrews and Patricia Briggs, here is another wonderful, action packed novel! Yes there is a love triangle but it's not like Twilight of anything silly.  This book was hard to put down!
Bookshelf_Confessions More than 1 year ago
Loved it! Fantasy, paranormal, action, romance, all rolled into one.. This is definitely one of my best reads this year :D Highly Recommended! and would look for more books from this author :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ImaginaryReads More than 1 year ago
From the first pages, I was drawn into McKenzie's world. There is always plenty of action to go around wherever she goes, for both sides want to make use of her shadow reading abilities. In this world, the fae travel through fissures, and certain humans like McKenzie, who is a shadow reader, can map the traces they leave behind, allowing other fae to pursue those who travel the In-Between. Her world is fascinating and new, and it's very well constructed. I enjoyed learning more about it as I journeyed with her through this novel. McKenzie is one of my favorite heroines. I just love how her mind works. She doesn't take any BS and is fiercely loyal to those she cares about. Though Aren provides plenty of reason why she shouldn't trust the court, she won't listen to him without seeing the truth for herself. And he's one big sexy temptation to resist. I've seen a lot of pretty boys in the books I've read, and he's just irresistible. I like how she doesn't fall for any pretty face and even credits her attraction to him as being due to Stockholm's Syndrome. As a Psychology major, I appreciate the reference. The characters as a whole are filled with personality, at least the important ones. I like how that the good guys and bad guys aren't clearly defined. Both the Court faes and rebel faes are capable of committing atrocious crimes, though not everyone does so. Some even try to stay out of politics and don't care who they're involved with as long as their business thrives. Kelia and Naito especially are adorable, and I like Lena for being the spitfire that she is. Lorn is also an interesting, and capricious, character. The love interests are also well developed, as is the romance. It doesn't feel like I'm being torn between Kyol one second and Aren the next. In fact, McKenzie herself says that she isn't some girl who can't decide between two guys who are after her. Though she deeply cares about them both, she makes her decision based on what she wants in life and feels she deserves, and I respect her for that. This is a remarkable debut from Sandy Williams. I'm looking forward to reading The Shattered Dark, book two in this series!
TrinaAfterDarkRendezvous More than 1 year ago
An author that I adore recommended this series and I am so glad they did because I loved Shadow Reader. This is a different take on the "fae world" for me.  No fairies or pixies in this story.  There's a human girl, McKenzie, with gifted abilities that is assisting the fae world's king.  She's been helping since age 16 and she's now 26. There's a love triangle between McKenzie and two hot fae males, Kyol and Aren.   The males couldn't be more different from each other.  Kyol is the kings swordsman, loyal to the bitter end.  Aren is the leader of the fae rebellion. When McKenzie is captured by Aren, sparks fly between them in more ways than one.  McKenzie's journey captivated me, will she fall for the rogue or stay with the honorable fae?   The war going on between the rebels and the kingdom is much more complex than McKenzie knew.  Whose side will McKenzie be on when it's all said and done?  She's discovered so many half truths and lies it's hard to choose. I can't wait to read the rest of the series!
GilwenCS More than 1 year ago
When I first heard of this series, I had some doubts. I had just read and adored the Fever series by KMM and suddenly a friend was telling me about Faes and a blond girl named McSomething being able to see them. Yeah … strange … Luckily, it didn't stop me from reading The Shadow Reader. Sandy Williams has built a very interesting world featuring two parallel universes: ours and the one belonging to the Faes. Using their powers, the faes have the ability to teleport from one to another. By mixing these two universes, the author imports some really nice elements like swords or magic in our contemporary reality. And while travelling in Fae territory, we have the opportunity to learn more about their life, like their language, their way of life … I would have liked more details about some of these aspects, but hey, it's just the first book of the series and I'm sure it will be developed later. The story in itself is captivating. No down time here, there are many twists and turns allowing us to discover the subtleties of the Shadow Reader's universe. A lot of action, but also some interesting struggles of power or geopolitics considerations. Yes, we are far away from Game of Thrones, but I do appreciate a meticulous plot, even more when the characters show some complexity. I have some mixed feeling about McKenzie. I found her sometimes a bit naïve and incapable of seeing the reality. But on the other side, things are not as easy as they seems and it's difficult to forget 10 years of feeling indebted and living in a different perception of the reality. Besides, I find her loyalty no matter what very honorable. I must also recognize that she ends up evolving, from pawn in the war between Atroth and the rebels to a real catalyst. In this conflict she ends up torn between two sides, but also two very attractive male figures. And if I'm a sucker for romance (omg, the idea of chaos lusters as a symbol of alchemy between two people is amazing), I'm not a big fan of love triangles. But here, it didn't bother me at all. It's very well written and never soppy at all. And through those two characters, it's also a side in the war that McKenzie is choosing. The evolution of the relationships is gradual and very much believable. And when McKenzie's heart veered between Kyol and Aren, so did mine.
Melliane More than 1 year ago
The Shadow Reader is an amazing book! Yes, Yes, I can tell it. After reading so many great reviews about this novel, I just wanted one thing: To read it and get into the story to know by myself how it really was. And I can tell I’m not disappointed! I was a little afraid in the beginning that it wasn’t the case. Indeed, it was a little difficult to get in the story with the first pages, but this feeling has changed quite fast. McKenzie is an amazing young woman, even if sometimes we wonder if she isn’t also too naïve. We understand her feelings, her desire to become like every person and not be mixed with this magical world which was so attractive when she was younger. Who would not want to have the possibility to be part of the fairy court? To live with the faes? But nothing is what it seems to be and McKenzie will be quickly mixed with some big events. I was really impressed by the McKenzie’s loyalty all along the book. It’s very difficult for her to trust the people around her, but when it’s the case, her trust is really solid. It’s a beautiful quality but in the same time it’s complicated for her too to see the true sometimes. We meet in this book some really interesting characters and it’s pleasant to like them, hate them and doubt them. During this whole book, our heart balances between Kyol and Aren despite they are very different. It’s still difficult at the end of the book to really understand them. Our feelings will change all along the story as we try to know what really happens. The story is captivating; we discover a new world which mixes some new intriguing ideas. As we can read it in the synopsis, McKenzie has an incredible gift: she can read the shadows i.e. when a fae opens a break into another realm, she can determine easily the localization. Therefore she is a good ally for battles. It’s a fascinating universe we discover with a new way of life. It’s always so interesting to learn the ideas of each author. Indeed, it was very difficult to put this novel down before reaching the end. We get quickly into the story, there are no breaks, and, action is all along the book with a frenetic rhythm. So we stay curious about everything until the end. Therefore it’s a really great book, and I strongly recommend it. I can’t wait to read the second novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An unmissable, sensational story ~ This electrifying tale that had me sat on the edge of my seat throughout, is an outstanding debut novel of great premise! I was literally blown away by the cast of captivating characters, interesting concepts and non-stop action-packed adventure that was relentless. I am so impressed by this acomplished author whose work i would highly recomend!
DrSteph6510 More than 1 year ago
Several reviews I've read state that this is a fresh new take on the fae world. I can't disagree or agree with that fact, because although I've read a ton of paranormal series/books, those based on the fae are probably one of the most limited in my repertoire. What I can say is that I really enjoyed this book. The world building was really great and I loved the combination of our world, the fae realm, and then their magic. There was action from page one and it didn't let up until the end. I ended up reading most of it in one sitting. I got a little frustrated with the fact that both the men in McKenzie's life wanted her to see their side of the story and wanted to protect her, but neither would tell her the whole truth. If they would have, they could have probably saved themselves some headaches or at least saved the poor girl some confusion on which side of the war she truly wanted to fight for. McKenzie was a stubborn, tough, and resourceful heroine, although she wasn't very good with weaponry so why it is such a strong feature on the covers, I don't know. My favorite guy was definitely Aren. What can I say? I like a rebel. I'm interested to see how the rest of the supporting cast plays a role in the next installment and later books as well.