An Unpopular Opinion About The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

As a newcomer in a company, it’s understandable that I currently have little to no work to doit’s a quiet time some seek and said I should cherish before my hours turn into utter chaos and endless deadlines. However, on account of finishing up as many errands as I could in my previous one followed instantly by a totally different culture to adapt to, this week has been exhausting to say the least. The thought of spending some good time with a new book was incredible even though clearly unwelcome. Luckily, I was spared enough idle time to pick up The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller and finished it in one sitting today, something I planned to do on weekend but seemed able to be done with a day ahead.

"I realized that words can be so hard to find when spoken aloud in the moment. But writing? It gives me the time to articulate just what I feel."

The Shadows Between Us follows the story of an eighteen-year-old girl named Alessandra who is tired of being overlooked her entire life. To remedy that, she plans to woo the newly-crowned Shadow King, marry him, and kill him before finally taking the entire kingdom for herself. But it turns out that she is not the only one planning the King’s murder. To achieve her ultimate goal, Alessandra realizes that she needs to keep Kallias alive long enough to make her a queen though she doesn’t count on the fact that she might risk her own heart along the way.

Based on the premise alone, I believed that this book was going to be my cup of tea. The sound of it felt somewhat dark and interesting thus I expected it to be another fantasy book my heart would pour out to. Sadly, while I did enjoy the fast-paced story and its unique main character, this book as a whole didn’t actually deliver.

I will just list some pros and cons to drive home my point. Here are the pros:

  • It’s quite a rarity to find a character like Alessandra in a Young Adult book. Ambition was the only thing that drove her actions, which made her interesting (or at least at first).

  • The pacing was fast and so it flew really well. I didn’t finish it in one sitting if not for it.

  • Although not entirely enticing, it still contained forbidden love, a trope I very much adore.

  • The twist in the ending was unexpected but certainly not out of nowhere. That, in my opinion, was an example of a good yet believable twist.

Those were basically it. Now the cons:

  • The only ‘fantasy’ element found in this book was The Shadow King’s power and nothing more. While it was not exactly a bad thing (except for my expectation), I did find myself feeling a wee bit disappointed by the world-building or the lack thereof.

  • Alessandra was unique, yes, but there was no development in her character. Without any progression or some consequences to face, I felt like a lot of her actions were divided into two groups: good-ambitious and not-so-good ambitious. She was quite a badass though not exactly an admirable one, especially with the fact that her luck let her get out of anything easily.

  • Alessandra painted her sister as dumb and totally annoying. As much as I wanted to believe that she was not the problem herself, I found it very unfortunate that we readers weren’t given any chance to make our own judgment.

  • I always like it when a book doesn’t only focus on the romance part. If executed properly, the less romance there is, the more I will want it to be. It didn’t happen here though. I rooted for Alessandra and Kallias the whole time but their chemistry just didn’t feel enough.

  • Some side characters seemed to pass by quickly without any distinct development or purpose other than to make Alessandra look very desirable.

  • I thought it would have done wonder to have the narrative flow at a slower pace (especially towards the twist in the ending). More details wouldn’t hurt either.

But please don’t get me wrong. Despite the flaws, I still found this book a quick fun read to spend my Friday with. Moreover, Kallias was also quite interesting to read. It’s just that contrary to popular liking, I didn’t find this book as wonderful as I had thought it would be. But still, I would recommend it if you love a quick fantasy read.

Actual rating: 3★