Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr
Series: Wicked Lovely #4
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: April 2010
One decision can change everything. One order not followed, an act of mercy, will have an effect that no one could have foreseen. Surely, Devlin could have never guessed how special Ani would be. Ani, a half blood, is unlike any other Faery alive. She is driven by hunger of both the flesh and emotions. A hunger that keeps her from living peacefully in the mortal world like her siblings, but not quite strong enough to truly be part of the Hunt or Dark Court like her father. Yet, it's an ability that no one else has ever possessed and it's drawing unwanted attention, including attention from Devlin. Of course, their next meeting will be much different from the first, and this time it'll be a kiss that changes everything. The start of an attraction that could bloom into more, if they can stay alive and outrun the danger that surrounds them. But if they can, they may find out that they were meant for each other and that that fact could change the Faery Courts forever.
The Short of It: Radiant Shadows is my favorite Faery Court/Wicked Lovely book to date. I was sucked into Ani’s life immediately and was quite sad to leave it. I read this one back in January and to be honest, I’ve been itching to reread it ever since, which is something I rarely ever do. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of books I’ve reread, yet, this one may still join that elite list as I impatiently wait for book 5 next year.
Plot: Ok, first things first, Radiant Shadows is Ani and Devlin’s story. Yes, Ash, Keenan, and Seth all make an appearance, but this book is not the continuation of their story. In fact, I would say it really is more of a continuation of Ink Exchange. I will admit that I read Radiant Shadows before Ink Exchange, so it can be done, I just wouldn’t recommend it. Ink Exchange is where you first meet Ani, plus the knowledge of the Dark Court really helps you understand what Ani is going through, especially when you take her special ability into account. I really enjoyed seeing Ani and Devlin both grow as characters. In the previous books they kind of annoyed or irritated me, something that was in the background, but now they’re real and fleshed out. It’s kind of hard to really talk about this plot without giving anything away. Instead, I’m only going to say I absolutely adore how Marr is pulling all the different elements of all the books together. I knew they were both going to hold an important place in the courts, but I never would have guessed how it really ended up being. And I love how one simple action can change so much. If Devlin had done what Sorcha asked when Ani was young, I’m afraid to see how much trouble the Faery Courts would be in right now. Sorcha is so unbalanced since changing Seth that she can barely rule. If not for Devlin or Ani, I’m certain that Bananach would have tore about the High Court…and the rest of the courts for that matter! This book is definitely about returning balance to a world that was quickly becoming chaos.
Characters: Ani. Ani. Ani. What could I possible say about Ani beyond that I easily adore her. She swiftly made herself my favorite character of the series. I love her spunk and courage, not to mention the love and unselfishness she has when it comes to those she loves. I don’t think I’ve ever rooted for a character as much as I have for Ani. I hated what Irial was doing to her, but loved she was willing to do it to save her court. And my heart so went out to her as we got a glimpse of her loneliness caused by not belonging to either world; she was too faerie to live as a mortal, but not faerie enough to be part of the Hunt. Of course, I also love her namesake, Ani Difranco, and Ani-the-character was almost the embodiment of Difranco’s music. It’s hard to explain, but it was as if Ani’s soul was an echo of Difranco’s music; so much so that I’m itching to create a playlist to go along with the book.
Devlin. Wow, Devlin really shined in this book. In Fragile Eternity, I thought he was a major, cold-hearted jerk and hated when he appeared on the page, but my opinion has done a complete 180. I never really realized how lonely he must be himself. Sorcha would never truly love him, he was an instrument to do her bidding and add a certain balance to their world. He watched as she doted on others, but never him. It was heartwarming to see how he treated Ani and Rae. He would have literally done anything to protect both of them…and really did for Ani. I also liked seeing him break the rigid formal attitude he had in the previous book. It was kind of fun watching him bend, break, and shatter the rules that had been previously been placed on him. I can’t wait to see where his fate takes him as I have a feeling there are still big things awaiting him.
Romance: Ani and Devlin’s romance isn’t your normal romance. After all, if Ani gets carried away feeding off him physically and emotionally she could easily kill him. However, at the same time it is hot! They were absolutely the perfect match for each other. Something about them just clicked right away and seemed to work so well. Although, to be honest, I’m not sure anyone else could have handled them; no one else could have satisfied their needs and allowed them to escape the chains that were holding them back. I also enjoyed seeing how protective each could be of the other, even though they were both strong faeries, their protectiveness came when it was needed the most. I could easily go on and on about how much I love this couple, but instead I’ll simply say they’ve become one of my favorite couples second only to Niall and Irial.
Writing: Man, what is there to say here? Marr’s writing continues to surprise me. I always think that surely she can’t top her previous book and she continues to prove me wrong. When I first picked up Wicked Lovely I could have never guessed this is where she would have taken the story. She is masterfully pulling all the different stories and plot lines together with supreme grace. They way she slowly reveals a little more of her master plan with each book is both tantalizing and torture. I’m so anxious to see how it will end that it’s not even funny. (How will I ever make it a year?!) It’s no wonder that Marr is one of my favorite YA authors!
Librarian-Mode: Ok, I must confess that this is the hardest part for me. I haven’t read other faerie books so I can’t necessarily lump it in with those. I do tend to recommend this one a lot to my fantasy-loving teens, though. It usually gets lumped in with my other favorites such as City of Bones and Graceling. I know the styles of all three books are very different, but I have found some teens who have liked all three. Marr’s books are a little darker than the other two, so the recommendation may not work for all. You may also want to consider Holly Black’s Modern Faery’s Tale Series. I would love to hear if anyone else has some read-a-likes that I can add to my list.
So, now it’s your turn…have you read Radiant Shadows? If so, be sure to let me know what you thought.