Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Review - THE SHADOW HUNT

The Shadow Hunt - Katherine Langrish (Dark Angels in the UK)
Genre: MG/YA Historical Fantasy
- ARC
- On sale (US) 1 June 2010
From back cover:
Wolf is onthe run - from the oppressive monastery where he was raised and from the ghosts and demons that haunt the windswept moors of Devil's Edge. But he is not alone. Along the way he befriends a brave girl named Nest. Together they discover that a sinister enemy is looming much closer than they ever could have imagined. With lies masquerading as reality, will Wolf and Nest learn who they can trust...before it's too late?


A few months ago, I discovered the works of an author named Katherine Langrish (the Troll Trilogy, also highly recommended), and she has since become one of my absolute favorite authors. The Shadow Hunt was a gripping, powerful read from beginning to end, and I absolutely devoured it. From page 1, the story started strong and remained strong all throughout: there was seriously never a dull or confusing moment!

The fantasy premise was incredibly interesting: in this culture, many believed in the existence of elves, mysterious creatures caught somewhere between Heaven and Hell, who reside in an underground kingdom known as Elfland. Are elves good, or are they evil? And what happens to a human who strays into Elfland? These questions, among others, are faced by the two main characters, Wolf (a boy fleeing the dull, oppressive monastic life) and Nest, the daughter of a knight who dreams of doing something extraordinary in her life. The natural and the supernatural collide when Wolf discovers a strange little elf-girl, who may hold the key to the secrets of the supernatural world...

As usual, Langrish's work is well-researched and historically insightful, in addition to being entertaining. Shadow Hunt is set in 12th century England and Wales, a time of knights, crusades, and castles, but also a time of religious anxiety and strict adherence to social customs, where death remained (for many) only a whisper away, and the lines between the real and the supernatural were not so easy to define. Langrish has a gift for truly making her story world come alive - which is even more amazing given that she writes historical fantasy, which requires equally strong blends of fantasy and history. The rich myths of English and Welsh folklore are beautifully woven into the novel, which makes Shadow Hunt an even more fulfilling read. The story provided an excellent cultural look into the world of the Middle Ages. Characters one would expect to see in a medieval story: the young girl dreading marriage, the zealous priest, the courtly knight, the cheeky jester - were not just stereotypes, but well-rounded, explored and real characters brought to life by a creative story and powerful writing.

And also, there was this eerie, almost foreboding emotion that I felt while I was reading that I haven't really experienced since reading Joseph Delaney's Wardstone series. It's not a scary book, per see, but it is chilling and kind of ominous at times, and I just loved that! The suspense, the "what is going to happen NEXT?!" all contributed to the fun reading experience.
Like I mentioned, Shadow Hunt is set along the border between Wales and England, and Langrish has an obvious knack for describing her scenes in rich, lush detail. I just love authors who take the extra time to really bring their scenes to life through detailed description. And I've been to Wales - it is without a doubt the most beautiful place I've ever visited...just absolutely breathtaking! It was so great to be transported back to my favorite place on earth for a few days.
In short, Shadow Hunt is a captivating, exciting (and a little spooky) read that I would recommend to EVERYONE - all age levels! Well, 10 and up. I am 21 years old, and I devoured this book. Teens and grownups, you will too!

Final rating: 5/5.

4 shout-outs!:

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Great review :)

blueicegal said...

me likey good job girl:D

JessiKay89 said...

Oh man, now I'm itching to read this! Great review! :)

Milli said...

Wonderful review! Yours are always written so nicely:D I need to read this!

 
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