By: R.J. Furness
Release Date: March 16, 2019
Publisher: Orgo Press
Series: Sapphire Smyth and the Shadow of Four
Received From: Publisher
(All reviews are our own, honest opinions.)
Shadows by R.J. Furness is the first serialized novel set within the Sapphire Smyth and the Shadow of Five series, which is named after the main character. This is a YA fantasy novel set in the modern day.
The story begin on Sapphire’s eighteenth birthday, after she’d been kicked out/run away from home. Her foster family says it’s time for her to leave and in an a combination of rage and despair she does just that. That’s when things start to go wrong – her mother’s bracelet seems fused to Sapphire’s wrist, someone seems to be chasing her, and the shadows seem to be moving a bit more literally than they should be.
The magic in this world – as much as we know this far – is shadow magic. This is a bit different from many other magic systems, and something I enjoyed learning about. I would absolutely love to see where this is going in future volumes.
At barely over one hundred pages, the novel was quite short – absolutely readable within a morning’s commute to work. On the other hand, this particular installment felt as if it wanted to be longer. Introductions to our main characters felt a bit rushed, or glanced over entirely. Sapphire in particular would have been a much more sympathetic character if reader’s had been able to see the birthday fallout and strange bracelet fusion first-hand instead of having it explained later.
I must admit that many of Sapphire’s actions are rather baffling. This is exacerbated by the distance the readers have from her—we don’t see the events which initial set off this chain of events for ourselves. This isn’t made up for in others ways, either, such as having the narrative being told in first person.
Sapphire makes decisions based on pride and idiocy. Many of her decisions don’t make any sense. Running away in the rain without an umbrella and wearing heels to name two. Equally baffling was the relationship between Sapphire and Ben. While the two are supposed to be best friends, they certainly don’t act like it. Ben keeps leaving Sapphire to her pride driven self-destruction despite knowing more about the situation than he’s letting on, and Sapphire does her absolute damnedest to keep as much distance and unfounded animosity between them as she possibly can. Equally immersion breaking is the thought
Yet, there’s an interesting world set behind all this. A large, spooky house. Magic drawn from shadows. A new, unknown world. A past that was hidden. There’s an interesting concept at the heart of this story.
If you enjoy YA or serialized novels, Shadows by R.J. Furness might be a story you want to pick up.