Radiant Shadows (#4) by Melissa Marr

Published:  April 24th 2010
Goodreads badgePublisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 340
Format: Book
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
★   ★   ★ – 3 Stars

Hunger for nourishment.
Hunger for touch.
Hunger to belong.

Half-human and half-faery, Ani is driven by her hungers.

Those same appetites also attract powerful enemies and uncertain allies, including Devlin. He was created as an assassin and is brother to the faeries’ coolly logical High Queen and to her chaotic twin, the embodiment of War. Devlin wants to keep Ani safe from his sisters, knowing that if he fails, he will be the instrument of Ani’s death.

Ani isn’t one to be guarded while others fight battles for her, though. She has the courage to protect herself and the ability to alter Devlin’s plans and his life. The two are drawn together, each with reason to fear the other and to fear for one another. But as they grow closer, a larger threat imperils the whole of Faerie. Will saving the faery realm mean losing each other?

What do you do when you can’t sleep at 3am? You add a review, naturally. The one thing I really love is the titles of these books. There is always that wonderful moment where you find the line in the book that makes the title make sense. Love those moments. Anyway, as we near the end of this series it gets a bit intriguing. I started this book as soon as I finished the previous one, which was a first. I do not know whether it was anticipation exactly, but based on the conclusion to Fragile Eternity I think I just wanted to see if Marr added something extra. And, the review originally went up 2 Jan so we have finally hit the current year! Joyous times.

I feel a little guilty not giving most of this series more than three stars so far, but there is always a little something that stops me. Radiant Shadows offers yet another perspective into the world of Faerie and the Courts. What Marr does well is create an entire world that interacts and overlaps with one another. Each book focuses on a separate section and aspect of the story but it all connects to past events and connects everyone together, nothing is a separate tale. The reason I think I find fault is that sometimes the writing can be a little bit weak. There are certainly moments of brilliant and intricate narrative that is twisted and bled out at the key moments, they are wonderful. But then you have to deal with the very dramatic and sometimes annoying issue of relationships. Conflict is done well in Radiant Shadows, and the brutality and power is clear in the Dark Court which is fantastic as usual, but dealing with young love seems out of place and not as well written amongst this power and drama.

With this new side of the saga, Marr explores the Dark Court more fully, as well as the Hounds, who we were briefly shown first in Ink Exchange I think in some detail. Book four shows us the perspective of Ani, who is the sister of Rabbit and Tish, and daughter of the Hound Gabriel. The Summer Court gets minimal mention here as the Darker sides are given free rein, but trusty Seth is there through his connection to the Courts in question. There is a greater and clearer threat by War as a main storyline here, something that has been lurking in the background while other drama played out in the other books. Again Marr works her structure well as we see the gradual and more believable rise of these issues. War doesn’t just come in and wreak havoc, she likes to play with people and mess with people because she know she can and she knows what she wants. As a result we see how, when and why limits are stretched and broken, and see that the threats to Faerie are becoming clearer.

The ongoing conflicts and rising issues around the Dark and High Courts are all very well and good, but for such epic strength from these Courts and these faeries the writing doesn’t really reflect this. The Hounds seem to be the only ones who are the most consistent in terms of intimidation and power. Certainly there are flickers where you see moments of great power, and you can feel that you are on the brink of something and you wait for these grand fights and displays of strength, or just something that makes you believe that they are are strong and threatening as they claim, but then it just dwindles away and you feel let down.

As the drama comes to a head during the last hundred pages or so, this was when I finally had a moment where I went, yes this is more like it, a true powerful battle with everyone’s strength and true nature being set free. This does not last long but I am glad that those who let me down were the newbies rather than characters I have stuck with through previous books. Those powerful in the Dark Court, Irial, darling Niall, and even Hound Gabriel to a point, they do not let you down, there is no second guessing them as they are as ruthless and powerful as they always have been. The conclusion is certainly worthy and offers a real clifhanger into the final book. It was just a shame we had to wait an entire book almost to see any excitement.

The issue with this review is that there is no strong plot to review. It is so simple really and it just gets dragged out with car trips and waiting around it seems. I know this is probably completely misinterpreted, and I understand so much of it was based around secrets, hidden fates and new sensations and desires, but it felt off, nothing actually happened for most of the book. Perhaps I haven’t had time to adjust to the new characters, we are introduced to their lives and sent on an adventure with them all in one book before we know what is going on. They may return and thrive in the next book, who knows. One thing that annoyed me was Seth, he and Ani kept getting up my nose, they didn’t seem like real people in this book, kind of fake and unbelievable. Seth was doing so well too, he was improving.

As I say, not much of a review but I think it reflects the confusing nature of the book. I’ll say this: I understand why it was important, I understand how everything needed to happen and fix the issues, but the opportunity to turn it into a strong narrative failed. It’s like Harry Potter 7: the most important book with the epic finale, and most of it was camping. That is how I feel here. The next book has a lot to live up to to bring this series home.

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