Destiny and darkness collide in this romantic, sweeping new fantasy series from New York Times best-selling author Sophie Jordan. Seventeen years ago an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok's lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna's survival depends on the world believing she is dead. But that doesn't stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized. With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.
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Reign of Shadows is a dark and mysterious retelling of Rapunzel. In this world, darkness rules for 23 hours a day because of an eclipse, leaving only an hour of daylight. During these 23 hours of darkness, creatures called dwellers emerge from the ground and roam the world, hunting all living beings as food. Meet our MC, Luna (aka Matt Murdock), a 17-year old blind princess who has grown up hiding in a tower under the care and tutelage of Perla and Sivo, the pair who rescued her from being murdered by the Chancellor who killed her parents and took their throne when she was a baby.
At the start of the story, Luna sneaks out of the tower to fetch a birthday present for Sivo, and stumbles into a young archer named Fowler and a pair of siblings, who are being attacked by Dwellers. Luna helps them and offers refuge in her tower. But the safety of the tower doesn't last, as they are attacked, and Fowler and Luna are forced to escape the tower in search of a rumored island free of dwellers. And then the rest of the story revolves around Luna and Fowler fighting for their lives and falling in love as they trek through the dangerous landscape. This is where the book suffers, because there's not much a plot or a resolution. The romance takes over, and though it's a decent romance (a bit insta-lovey but that's understandable given Luna's been locked up in a tower all her life), it left me wanting more from the story.
This dark world swarming with dwellers is, imo, a great and intriguing concept, but sadly it wasn't explored or explained. How did the dwellers come to be? Did they exist before the eclipse? How are trees and plants still around in a world with one hour of daylight?
And then there's Luna's blindness. Though she can't see, she is somehow an expert at throwing weapons, has augmented hearing and smell, she can travel unknown landscapes without tripping, and has an uncanny sense of direction; it's never explained how she can do these things. The author paints this as though Luna's blindness is what makes her strong and unique, suggesting her lack of sight is what improved her hearing and smell. I can see someone being more attentive/focused when you don't have sight to rely on, but that doesn't explain supernatural abilities; perhaps this will be revealed in the next book? Luna is a little too much of a selfless do-gooder, but I was ok with her. I really liked Fowler, he's a good romantic interest, and the author does a good job of differentiating his POV from Luna's. The one thing I did not like about Fowler was the occasional flowery monologue that sounded too feminine for a male character.
Bottom line: the plot and world building are lacking, but the characters and romance were decent enough to keep my interest. I plan on listening to the next one, whenever it comes out.
The book is not bad. But I feel that I could have simply waited for the local library to make this book available rather than purchase it on audible. The book is more about developing the romance between the two main characters rather than what's going on in their world.
Hence, both spend a lot of time alone together on the road.
This is not to say I didn't like Luna and Fowler's developing relationship. Because I do. But I feel that that is the only draw this book has. And that may not be enough for most people especially if the reader wants to learn more about the book universe's history and culture.
It seems to me that the setting (a land in a perpetual solar eclipse) and the circumstance (Luna's a princess in hiding from the chancellor who murdered her parents and usurped the throne while Fowler has some of his secrets too) are nothing more than a prop for the romance.
Which does seem to leave a lot lacking in my opinion.
I'm interested enough in Luna and Fowler to see what happens in the next book. But I think I'll just borrow the next book in the library.