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Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Lord of the Shadows by Darren Shan (Saga of Darren Shan, #11) - Book Review

4/5 Stars

I'm on the verge of self-destruction.

But I won't go down alone...

861551

Edition: Paperback
Pages: 185
Chapters: 22 (Plus a prologue.)
Publisher: HarperCollins

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Amazon
                      Author's Website

Review

The first entry in the series to break the 5/5 run. Lord of the Shadows doesn't quite match up to its predecessors, but it's still a damn fine instalment. The mini-trilogies within the series so far have been cohesive, but this set feels a little off. The things it gets right: Fantastic. The things it doesn't: Leaves the reader a little conflicted. Overall, though, it adequately sets up what's to be a fitting finale. The cliffhanger we're left with has me absolutely rabid with anticipation.

So, let's get on with it!

SPOILER WARNING

Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)

There's a rising darkness coming.
Darren Shan, half-vampire, can feel it.
So it's only fitting that his journey is taking him home.
Back to the place it all started.
While enemies surround Darren and the ones he loves, those that are against him aren't his biggest concern.
The greatest danger, not only to his family and friends, but to the world, could be Darren himself...

Plot - 4/5 Stars

Darren's return to his hometown is long overdue. Reading the blurb, I could only smile and get giddy. Not only is it a fantastic full-circle thing and a plot thread that promises to be fantastic, but another perfect opportunity to compare and contrast Darren's ever-changing life, especially with what's rising inside him. The added element of danger ramps up suspense - like we needed any more - and the anticipation of a family reunion almost had me in tears. 

We also see a welcome return to the main plot which we took a break from in The Lake of Souls. And we're ready, willing and able to reach the conclusion. 

The hints and nudges toward the explanation of the place Darren and Harkat visited is exciting, but not completely surprising. The future wasteland is what waits if Darren fails, but the shocking and mind-numbing thing is, it awaits even if he succeeds! This works for me immensely. So far, a dark prophecy has always had a dash of hope to stop it. But now we're told this future is inevitable, and the way it changes the story's and the characters' perspectives is intricately engrossing.

Another positive, is the way the War of the Scars is becoming increasingly more widespread and epic. It began as a war between creatures of the night, and has leaked into the day, bringing a helpless and oblivious humanity with it. I love the addition of the vampirites to combat the vampets. It brings a much needed balance.

Not much happens in the beginning but a heap of foreshadowing, and from then events are a little disjointed. The end and cliffhanger though bring everything back into focus. It's brilliant. I gasped, my eyes shot wide, I almost couldn't breath for the monstrosity and evil that perfectly sets up the final book in the series.

While I have no real qualms over the story as a whole, I do feel conflicted over how one of the staple characters meets his end.

Pace - 4/5 Stars

The pace suffers for the first seventy pages or so, because, nothing really eventful happens. The surprise that Darren will be returning to where his life took a deadly turn manages to keep things exciting, but there's still no real action until later on.

I love the previous book, The Lake of Souls, but Lord of the Shadows takes a hit due to the latter's break from the main plot. It can sometimes feel like this entry is trying to catch up with lost time.

Once in the swing of things, everything picks up to the series' normal action-packed, adrenaline-pumping speed.

Characters - 4.5/5 Stars

The majority of the cast in this instalment get on fine. There's just one that throws me, and I'll start with that first.

Mr Tall's death. It surprises me, and not in a positive way, well, apart from feeling positively pointless. The twist with his parentage is crucial, and helps build the lore, but it isn't something I hadn't already guessed, and my surprise deepened at the fact that, apparently, the cast actually hadn't guessed. Mr Tall's end is valiant, and the reasons behind it are heartwarming, but it isn't fitting. There's no real need, especially with what comes after.

Moving backwards, Darren's character just keeps going from strength to strength. His hero status is being threatened by the change occurring within him, and that change has my complete attention, especially with the ramifications it poses to the world. I read a couple reviews where the reviewers felt that this change is too sudden for our main character, and I have a feeling that's due in part to The Lake of Souls break. It isn't too far fetched that Larten's death inherently altered Darren. The reason we haven't seen it thus far is mainly because Lord of the Shadows is the first time Darren's faced with Mr Crepsley's murderer.

All in all, it's an exciting element. 

Alice and Debbie also make a return as leaders of the vampirites. They're the two strong females of the series, but different in their own rights. Where Debbie is more nurturing, protective and emotional, Alice is steely, determined and clinical. I'm glad they are in the mix, representing humanity's investment in the war.

Vancha, Harkat, Evra, Mr Tiny, Evanna etc., all make appearances too. The cast has never stumbled - aside from my conflicting emotions concerning Mr Tall - and they're something that can be relied on.

But it's Evra's son, Shancus, who impacts the entry the most. His murder at Steve's hands is horrific! He's only a child! It finally drives home just how evil and inhuman Steve is. It's gasp worthy.

Writing - 5/5 Stars

A quick and easy read with quality work by the author. Much like the rest of the series.

The shift in tone is noticeable now that Darren's in the early stages of adulthood.

Overall - 4/5 Stars

After that ending, with Darius being revealed as Darren's nephew, and the answers that brings for questions we've only fleetingly asked, I need the ending.

Despite how crappy I'll feel once the series is done...


Previous Instalment: The Lake of Souls
Next Instalment: Sons of Destiny


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