The Shadow Reader

The Shadow Reader

by Sandy Williams

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781937007010
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/25/2011
Series: A Shadow Rider Novel Series , #1
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 477,996
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Sandy Williams is the author of the Shadow Reader novels. She graduated from Texas A&M University with degrees in political science and history, and worked as a librarian until her husband whisked her off to London on an extended business trip. Now she’s back in Texas, writing full-time, raising twin boys, and squeezing in time to play geeky board and card games.

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.


Excerpted from "The Shadow Reader"
by .
Copyright © 2011 Sandy Williams.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

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"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

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The Shadow Reader 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 53 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
LeleliaSky on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I received a ARC of The Shadow Reader from Goodreads. I really enjoyed the book. It was a great combination of our world and the Fae world. McKenzie is a great character who never loses hope against her captors and always seeks out a way to fight what stands in her way. The author does a great job of showing us McKenzie's internal struggle with what she has been taught and what is the reality. I don't want to spoil the book for anyone, but I will say that the author does a great job of mixing McKenzie's love for a man and her growing into herself. I really admired the ending where McKenzie stands up for herself and realizes she has put herself on hold for 10 years and she will no longer do so. I look forward to the author's next book and hope it will be about McKenzie and the Fae.
ReginaR on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Why is this not a 5 star or a 4 star book for me? I have put off writing this review for a week or so because I am confused as to why everyone I know on goodreads loved this book but me. In part, I think this may be a "Its not you, its me" kinda thing. I may be over my urban fantasy binge. Hey, it was a good ride. It started summer 2010 and lasted until now. When I hear about new titles or series in the paranormal, they just do not interest me -- with the exception of my favorite authors and series. So, my thoughts on this book should be put into that context -- that urban fantasy just does not have the same pull for me. Another issue for me that should help me feelings on this book be put into context -- for an urban fantasy book to thrill me, I need the main struggle to be something other than the romance. That is why I prefer UF over paranormal romance. And I know may of my goodreads friends can point out several paranormal romance series, historical romances, and contemporary romances that I love. Yes, I do enjoy a romance that is well done -- but my well done is this. I enjoy the angsty romance plot line too, but the true struggle/fight/confict for me needs to be about the world/story. And the characters and relationships in the book need to be three-dimensional with growth and progression. I did not see this in Shadow Reader. In my opinion, the main conflict in Shadow Reader is the romance. And that is fine, but I didn't buy into the characters feelings for the individual that made up the third part of the love triangle. Which poses a problem for me as a reader, if I don't believe in the romance, which is the main struggle of the book -- then the book falls flat for me. The romance with the guy who is the third leg of the triangle (I am trying to be vague and non-spoilerish) just was not believable for me. What I saw was an incredibly sexy guy that the lead character was attracted to and he was attracted to her as well to her. But when did they develop love? I did not see a relationship developing at all. I never felt or believed in the "who should she choose" storyline. I had strong opinions about who she should drop and then maybe move on in her life, but choosing someone else to fill the void of the person just dropped? Nah, Sandy Williams did not convince me. There was a side conflict to the storyline -- where should MacKenzie place her allegiance? The court or the rebels? Again, I thought this was not set up well nor was it done believably. MacKenzie places her allegiance with any one side based solely on emotion and relationships, not on critical evaluation. I know people do this in real life, but I find that downright scary. But whatever, my criticism of decisions aside I do not think the author convinced me as to who MacKenzie should be loyal too. So those were my problems. I liked the characters, I liked the world, and I really enjoyed the beginning. I do think this should be labeled paranormal romance or romance based urban fantasy though. Positives about the book: The world building is done very well and there are some interesting side characters. There is solid writing and some good action scenes. If readers are okay with the main conflict being about who will she choose, then I think this book will be a win for those readers. I think fans of Angels' Blood by Nalini Singh would enjoy this book/series. I am one of the few people in the urban fantasy reading world that is not a fan of the Guild Hunter series for the same reason Shadow Reader missed the mark for me.
LoveyDoveyBooks on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Originally posted on Lovey Dovey Books.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.
HomeLoveBooks on LibraryThing 10 months ago
There are a lot of books I have been excited about reading, and this was one of them. I found Sandy Williams when I stumbled upon her Magic and Mayhem blog (a blog with her and a couple of other authors whose books I'm also looking forward to reading). I must say that this book did not disappoint.Part of the reason I was excited about this book is because it involves the Fae. A lot of the urban fantasy books seem to be focused primarily on vamps or werewolves, and I personally believe the Fae are hugely underutilized. Williams did not disappoint, her portrayal of the Fae was quite interesting to say the least, and pulled me in by the time chapter one was finished. I do have to point out that the Fae in Williams' book almost remind me a little of the epic fantasy races that are common to that genre. That similarity, I think for me, made them all the more intriguing.The book doesn't have a lot of build up to the action, right from chapter one you are thrown into the thick of it, with the book's main character McKenzie being captured right off the bat. Normally I would say this is hard way to get to know the main character, but Williams' manages to not only get the reader to know McKenzie, but also to pull for her. I was right there with McKenzie the entire time, every time she was confused about how she was feeling, I was confused about how I wanted her to feel. Every time she was scared, I was scared for her. I was surprisingly, and refreshingly easy to identify with McKenzie. When I start a new book in a series, sometimes it can take two or three books for me to feel attached to a character, I can tell right now I am already attached to McKenzie, and I want to know what is going to happen next to her.The book also has a romantic element to it, and it all flows really well throughout the book. It never feels forced on the part of the author, it always feels organic to the character. Not only that but any scenes involving romantic elements were written really well, there was no cheesy descriptions or euphemisms, which only helped to make the actions more organic and truly helped the plot along.Another thing that I want to point out is that this book takes place in the middle of war. And war is a tricky thing to write. Fighting scenes can often become to chaotic and make it for the reader to follow, but this was never a problem for me. I think this was due to the fact it was all from McKenzie's point of view, so it really helped keep things in perspective. I'm also really impressed with the way Williams' portrayed both sides, like she says in the book, every war has two sides. Trying to determine the truth out of those two sides was hard for McKenzie and for me.I even like the other characters besides McKenzie. Kyol was hard and distant, but when he softened up around McKenzie I can totally understand what his appeal was. Aren was easy to like, and then in certain moments I had the urge the punch him in the face, I think he's a rather complex character and its going to be interesting to follow him. Lena is very much the mean girl, but I could almost understand her point of view being that she's in a hard situation. Kelia was easy to like, she super sweet, but hard when she needs to be. She's fierce about the people she cares about, and how can you not like someone who is willing to do anything to protect the people she loves. Overall the characters were really well fleshed out and enjoyable to follow along with. Williams' brings the characters to life in such a way that it made it almost impossible for me to put the book down. Overall, I'm pretty sure I really love this book. I think it has a lot of appeal to a lot of different people. I could easily see paranormal romance people loving this book. I could the average urban fantasy lover loving this book. And truth be told I also think if there are fans of epic fantasy who want to give urban fantasy a try, this would be the book I recommend; it shares a lot of the elements that ar
clairesbooks on LibraryThing 10 months ago
The Shadow Reader is the first Urban Fantasy book in a new series by Sandy Williams. McKenzie Lewis has the Sight, that is to say she can see the Fae that 99.9% of other humans cannot. But what makes McKenzie even more special is that she can read and map the Shadows which are left behind when one of the Fae opens up a fissure and teleports to somewhere else. McKenzie has been reading and mapping shadows for the Fae King for 10 years. In that time she has found a forbidden love with Kyol the King¿s sword master. It is a love that Kyol fights as a human and Fae relationship is not allowed at Court. McKenzie is so special that she is kidnapped by Aren the leader of the rebel Fae who hopes he can turn her against the King and make her see that the rebels are not the bad folks that they are made out to be. The time has come for Mckenzie to choose which side she is on.We are thrown straight into the action with this book, so much so that I thought my copy had some pages missing at the beginning. This threw me a little bit and it took some time to get into the story, plus Fae are not my favourite supernaturals to read about. But once I did I couldn¿t put it down and finished it within 24 hours of starting it that is very fast for me. I was totally engrossed with the story, the world building is spectacular, the characters are interesting and the plot was fantastic. I really liked McKenzie although at times she also did annoy me somewhat. The author constantly throws massive twists at us throughout the book so you don¿t know who is lying and who is telling the truth. At one point I thought a certain character was telling the truth only to have it turned on its head. No wonder poor McKenzie is confused, especially when it comes to the two men in her life Kyol and Aren. Yes readers there is a huge love triangle going on. Now I know some people don¿t like love triangles but they don¿t really bother me except this one which had me on the edge of my seat hoping McKenzie would pick the guy I wanted her to pick. The sexual tension and chemistry between McKenzie and one of the guys is amazing. The scenes where they are kissing actually took my breath away. This book is absolutely awesome and I would not hesitate in recommending it. For me it was one of those books where you don¿t want it to end and after finishing I immediately went in search of news for book 2. Good news is there will be a book 2 it is called The Shattered Dark but bad news it is not out until November 2012. A long wait but it is on my tbr list. I am going to award this book 5 stars.
calypso531 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I loved the premise of this book, and found the story very engaging by the end. However, the author's writing style is still being developed. I am curious to see how her next book will turn out.
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
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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