Arpherius is only a boy when he discovers a terrible truth: he was born without a shadow, marking him as the son of a god.
Though he is gifted with tremendous power, Arpherius is still doomed to a life of fear and hiding, both from the relentless Shadow Hunters who would destroy him, or from the god’s followers who would sacrifice him to their patron.
But an ancient plan is beginning to take shape, and Arpherius soon finds himself among others of his kind; fellow Shadowless, who are tired of living in fear. And they are ready to make a stand.
It is time to take the fight to the gods themselves.
by Randall McNally
Hardcover, 497 pages
December 6, 2017
Published by Randall McNally
Fantasy | High Fantasy|Dark
Find this book on: Amazon CA | Goodreads
Before we start, I want to send a huge thank you to the author, Randall McNally, for sending me a full, hardcover copy of this book for my review! The book is absolutely gorgeous and it sits on a place of pride on my shelves.
One look and you’ll know exactly what kind of story to expect, with a concept that’s as foreboding as it is terrifying for all of us puny mortals: what do you do when even the gods want you dead?
And I am absolutely here for it!
The book is written like a series of short stories set in the same world. There is a thread that ties it all together, but we don’t see the effects of it until the third act when it very quickly draws the pieces together into an exquisite whole.
Without spoiling too much, I thoroughly enjoyed how everything from characters to minute details I’d half forgotten was brought together in a storm of suspense and action, well worth the journey to get there.
There were a plethora of characters to follow, including our hero Arpherius, ranging from the adorably (and tragically) optimistic, to some of the slimmest villains I’ve ever seen.
I especially loved the vast array of powers each Shadowless possessed, which both complimented and shaped each character in ways I wasn’t always expecting. Arpherius probably had my favourite ability of all the Shadowless, befitting the central hero of our story, but his was far from the most unique.
There are elemental wielders, soothsayers, storms in human form; shapeshifters, death dealers, voices that can smash stones, and even walking plagues, to name a few. And that’s just their magic!
Each of the Shadowless are as unique as their given powers, and all of them have their chance to shine as they try (and sometimes fail) to find a place in a world that feels determined to see them dead.
It brings to mind the multi-character perspectives of books like Game of Thrones: if you don’t enjoy one character, there’s another you’ll absolutely adore just waiting in the next chapter.
However, I do wish there was a little bit more of a single flowing narrative from the very beginning as well. While I love the varied perspectives, the reader is introduced to a lot of characters, with stories that jump back and forth across decades of time.
I found it difficult to keep track of everyone, especially towards the build up to the climax, and more than once I had to backtrack to previous chapters just to remember who was who.
Again, I liked the execution overall, but some parts of the narrative just felt disconnected from the whole; detours on the road to the main story, rather than building on each other to pave the way forward.
A powerful and gripping story, Shadowless has a highly ambitious concept and a fantastic narrative that comes together with colossal force at the end, even if it stumbles a bit along the way.
Overall I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun adventure with an incredible cast of characters and the perfect touch of grimdark aesthetic.
It also looks like the author is planning for a sequel (and how dare you bait me with a cliff hanger like that!) so I’ll be looking forward to what happens next.
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