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A Reader of Fictions: Review: Shadowcry

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Friday, July 26, 2013

Review: Shadowcry

Wintercraft, Book 1

Author: Jenna Burtenshaw
Pages: 320
Publisher: Greenwillow
Read: June 19-22, 2013
Source: Library

Description from Goodreads:
The Night of Souls—when the veil between the living and the dead is thinnest—is only days away.

Albion is at war . . . and losing.

The wardens have descended, kidnapping innocent citizens for their army, but looking for one in particular.

And fifteen-year-old Kate Winters has just raised a blackbird from the dead.

As her home is torn apart by the wardens, Kate's discovery that she is one of the Skilled—the rare people who can cross the veil between life and death—makes her the most hunted person in all of Albion. Only she can unlock the secrets of Wintercraft, the ancient book of dangerous knowledge. Captured and taken to the graveyard city of Fume—with its secret tunnels and underground villages, and where her own parents met their deaths ten years ago—Kate must harness her extraordinary powers to save herself, her country, and the two men she cares for most. And she'll make a pact with a murderer to do it.

Those who wish to see the dark, be ready to pay your price.

First Sentence: "At the southern edge of a moonlit city, a woman stood over an open grave."

Jenna Burtenshaw's Shadowcry has been on my radar for quite some time, ever since a friend read it and loved it. With a review copy of book three in hand, I've embarked on the full series, always a risky venture, yet one that I can't resist. Obviously, I have will power issues. Shadowcry stands unique from the bulk of young adult fiction, but, thus far, isn't the ideal read for me personally.

As I say over and over again, what really makes me interested in a book are the characters. Whether I love them or not, I almost always need to connect to them in some way, to feel that they're in some measure real to really get involved in the book. World building and writing for their own sake get me only so far. Shadowcry definitely focuses more on those aspects than on character, so I had a lot of trouble maintaining interest, even though, objectively, I can appreciate a lot of what Burtenshaw has done here.

Shadowcry starts dramatically with Kate and her uncle Artemis preparing to flee before the Wardens, the men who killed her mother and father, arrive in town. They do not make it out of the bookshop Artemis owns in time however. Blackbirds, the precursors to the Wardens, have arrived, pecking madly and dying on the streets. The scene is eerie and horrifying.

The Wardens are looking for the Skilled, people with the ability to bridge the veil, the space between life and death. If one of these dead birds is touched by someone Skilled, the bird will return to life. In the process of rescuing Ethan, who works for Artemis, from the barrage of dying birds, Kate touches one and it comes back to life in her hands. The blackbird flaps up the chimney, alerting Silas, the head collector of the Skilled to her existence.

Kate and Ethan are on the run, pursued by Silas. They don't know who to trust, and have no idea what they can do. The concept of the Skilled is fascinating, and I like the complex nature of Silas' character. He is not entirely good or evil, and not entirely human either. Kate is a great heroine, too, full of fire and strength. She never crumples in the face of adversity, and constantly tries to rescue Ethan and Artemis. There's a definite sense in the book that the female characters are the strongest ones and that's awesome. Also, I know some folks are really sick of books dominated by romance, so, just fyi, there's absolutely no romance in Shadowcry.

Despite all that good stuff, my main reaction to Shadowcry was boredom. Since there wasn't any focus on character development really, I just wasn't all that engaged. Before I can care much about the world or the dramatic events, I need to care about the characters.

So far, the Wintercraft series has not proved the ideal read for me. I do think Shadowcry is a good book, but just not what I was hoping for or what works for me personally.

Rating: 2/5

Favorite Quote: Didn't have one

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Blogger AnimeJune said...

I'm the same way - I need characters who make sense. I hate reading literary or science fiction where the characters are clearly cyphers there to move the plot in the expected direction.

Of course, I do love interesting ideas and worlds and themes, etc., but it'll never be a truly memorable book without characters I can invested time and and emotion on.

July 26, 2013 at 8:36 AM  
Blogger fakesteph said...

This sounds good, but I'm with you--characters make a book for me!

July 26, 2013 at 9:29 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

This sounds interesting, but I am a character reader, so if they are lacking I won't enjoy the book as much. Bonus points for no romance. It's a refreshing change. I hope that the rest of the series works a little better for you and there is more character development. Great review!!

July 26, 2013 at 10:43 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Well, the idea of this book is really intriguing
But its disappointing that you didn't llike it
Your reader,

July 26, 2013 at 11:56 AM  
Blogger Dana said...

Hmm, I wish you had liked this one more because it sounds like an interesting read. Hope the others are better for you.

July 26, 2013 at 12:15 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Oh lord, that's the worst. These certainly weren't that, nor were they some sort of wank for the author to relieve past dreams or anything. They were just sort of there.

I'd say you can find something better, tbh.

July 26, 2013 at 1:47 PM  
Blogger Gina @ My Precious said...

Well, bummer, not unlike you I've had this one on my radar for a while. I'm disappointed the book didn't develop the characters in more depth. Just curious if this is middle grade and told in third person. I'm finding plenty of these type of books to fit the same mold, heavy on world building and plot, very light on character development.

July 26, 2013 at 1:50 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Without them, what's the point?

July 26, 2013 at 2:07 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah, no romance at all. I kept expecting something to bloom, but nope. Probably would have gotten too feelsy. Lol, I ended up DNFing book two. I just had no fucks to give.

July 26, 2013 at 2:22 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Too bad, indeed.

July 26, 2013 at 2:25 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I know, but I just didn't care at all. Sigh.

July 26, 2013 at 2:25 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah, I was really sad because I'd convinced myself I would love it. Alas, not so much.

July 26, 2013 at 3:04 PM  
Blogger Ashley @ The Bibliophile's Corner said...

Oh no! This book has been on my list for a while. I'm so sad that it didn't work for you. I am going to try it though. I am just so in love with the covers. Lol.

July 27, 2013 at 1:48 AM  
Blogger Nori said...

So, I actually think you liked this more than I did....

July 27, 2013 at 7:20 PM  
Blogger Kayla Beck said...

I'm a whore for major world-building, so I think I may give this a spin. I hate that you didn't like it, but on to better books!

July 28, 2013 at 7:57 AM  
Blogger April (BooksandWine) said...

I am super big on characters and have a copy of this, so I will give it a shot even though you said the characterization isn't awesome. Because for me personally, sometimes writing and worldbuilding helps.

July 28, 2013 at 3:58 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

I'm sad this one wasn't that great. I've been wanting to read it too, since the blurb sounds really interesting and I tend to enjoy Greenwillow titles. But if I'm going to read fantasy, I want it character-driven or else I get bored too. I might need to skip this one...

July 29, 2013 at 10:24 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

I wish you better luck!

July 29, 2013 at 2:15 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Lol, that's not good.

July 29, 2013 at 2:26 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Hopefully it does!

July 29, 2013 at 2:29 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yes, I hope it works better for you, April. You're generally less picky than I am, so good luck!

July 29, 2013 at 2:32 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Balzer + Bray is the Harper imprint I do best with. The rest are very hit or miss. I only do character-driven fantasy. Otherwise I'm just bored bored bored.

July 29, 2013 at 2:40 PM  

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