The Shadows Between Us is the villain/morally gray romance I never knew I needed! I absolutely devoured this book in one five-hour sitting, finishing at 2am and wired from what an amazing read it is. Worth it.
About The Shadows Between Us
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends | Release Date: February 25, 2020
Pages: 326 | Genre: YA, Fantasy | Format: eBook | Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.
No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.
But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?
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My Review of The Shadows Between Us
1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.
The Shadows Between Us is a fast-paced fantasy standalone that is easily bingeable. Set in a fantasy kingdom with court politics and a new king, the book marries historical elements with modern feminist ideas for a powerful and empowering tale.
“I long to truly live. To be a part of everything.”
If you’re a fan of snarky, confident, and ambitious characters, you will love our cunning main character Alessandra. The law states Alessandra cannot debut in society until her sister is married, and she is ready to step out on her own to gain the recognition she craves.
I love how fiercely confident and ambitious she is: she will stop at nothing to achieve her goals. She sets herself apart using fashion, creating her own designs that set the court’s trends on its head.
The book shines with the characters and the relationships that develop. Alessandra has never had female friends before, and uses men as pawns to get what she wants. When she finally joins the Shadow King’s court, she makes friends (initially out of necessity) for the first time and I really enjoyed watching her friendships with men and women develop.
“The poets can say whatever they damned like. A woman’s worth is not decided by what’s between her legs but by what is in her mind.”
The world is patriarchal and rather sexist, but the characters are sex positive and themes of equality run through the book. Empowered by her sexuality, Alessandra shares her opinions with her friends. But I loved that while she is sex-positive, she doesn’t share her friends for making their own choices.
“‘There is nothing silly about waiting until you want to. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It is your body to do with as you will.’ She smiles at me then, and I worry that I might be the first person to tell her that. Waiting. Not waiting. One lover. One hundred lovers. There should be no judgement either way.”
Now let’s get to the romance! I really adored the Shadow King as a character and I was rooting for him to open his heart to Alessandra. The tension and chemistry is palpable.
“His eyes are the green of the sea, of crashing waves and violent winds. There’s something dangerous in the depths of them, something exciting, and I realize right then that feigning disinterest will be difficult.”
One thing that I especially enjoyed is the reversal of expectations on the cunning, ambitious character. I am used to narratives that center on cunning male characters, and while I don’t necessarily call the Shadow King a saint, he is a cinnamon roll comparatively. There is so much I would like to say about his character but I don’t want to ruin the experience of learning about him while reading.
I appreciate that necessary backstory is effortlessly woven into the narrative. The reader learns you need about the world in so few words. The pace isn’t bogged down with detail yet is beautifully described. However, I do wish that the overall worldbuilding were a bit more developed. It’s rich but uncomplicated, providing the context you need to understand on a base level, but this is definitely character-driven. Some readers might crave more information about the world, but I did not have an issue. I was so enthralled with the characters that it didn’t really matter to me, though. I just wish there were an epilogue though because I’d love more time with the characters!
Overall, I found this book to positively be a delight and I am an idiot for taking so long to read my eARC. In a lot of ways, reading The Shadows Between Us hit similar notes as The Beautiful for me. The chemistry between the characters oozes off of the page and Alessandra is equally passionate about fashion. If you like complex characters and stories of friendship and love, I highly recommend that you pick this one up!
Representation: bisexual side character, feminism, sex-positive
Content warning: death, loss of a loved one, sexism (challenged)
eARC provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect the contents of my review. Quotations are from an uncorrected proof and may change upon final publication. I have since purchased a finished copy.
Recommended if you enjoyed…
Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody
Furyborn by Claire Legrand
Have you read The Shadows Between Us yet? If so, what did you think?!
Do you have any “villain romance” recommendations?
I DNF Daughter of the Pirate King so I’m a little hesitant to go into another Tricia Levenseller book but this does sound pretty good. I’m really curious. And, of course, the way you’ve described it as a ‘Slytherin romance’ does have me wanting to add this to my TBR immediately! Great review!
I own Daughter of the Pirate King but I haven’t read it yet, so I can’t speak to whether or not it’s got similar writing that could give you similar issues. But I really enjoyed it and found the pacing consistently awesome – I’d say if the first chapter is meh to you, it’s probably not for you. Thanks for stopping by, Kelly!
Sophie @ Me and Ink says
After reading the blurb for this book I was very intrigued because it sounded so fun and full of some classic elements I like!! I really like it when the female are ambitious and the male has a cinnamon roll vibe so I’m excited about that!! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it so much as I had heard a bit of a mix !! But I love character driven plots so I’ll definitely be curious to check this one out and sometimes I just need a fast paced book!! Great review !!
I also love ambitious females with cinnamon roll males, it is such a fun subversion of typical gender roles that I just can’t get enough of! Don’t get me wrong though – the Shadow King is also kind of bad… but comparatively? LOL. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did if you pick it up, Sophie!
Yes, I can’t wait to read/listen to this! My slytherin heart needs it. So glad that you enjoyed it and can’t wait to discuss!
I can’t wait for you to read this book so we can screech about it together. Because I NEED TO TALK. Heck, I may re-read it when you pick it up.
Abantika Bose says
Seems like a great one!
Camilla @Reader in the Attic says
Ah, I’m fairly curious. Usually I’m not into romance with a possibile villain/negative character, unless the other half of the interest is equally bad. So… this will probably one of my future standalone purchase. I do worry about the sex positive thingm because as aro and ace I know how it’s usually turned against me and folks like me. I really hope it won’t disappoint me
I think it is probably fair to say both characters are Slytherins and awful in their own way… it’s just that Alessandra is Peak Cunning. I do hope you will enjoy the book – while the MC is very much a gal who enjoys sex, she doesn’t force it and even reiterates that any choice a woman makes with her body is valid.
I am so glad I’m not the only who was thinking people who liked the Beautiful might like this one too! This was a 5* for me! I loved all the themes you mentioned, and it was just amazing. I think I read it in a few hours I got so engrossed!
Ahhh, I am glad you got similar comp vibes!!! I loved this book (and The Beautiful!) so much and huzzah that it was a 5-star read for us both! I also devoured this in one sitting… 5 hours! Woooo
This Slytherin neeeds this book!! Plus I just want to see if I gel with this write outside of the Daughter of the Pirate King duology
I hope you are able to read it soon, Jothany!
Yesss! My Slytherin soul was so satisfied. And the romance was HOT at some places so let’s just this was an entertaining one ♥ Loved your review!
I literally never knew Slytherin romance was a thing I needed… but I need all the books like this. Now. Such a HOT and fun read, I loved it! Thanks so much for reading, Fanna. <3
Marley @ dragononabook says
Ooh, this sounds really interesting, I’ll have to check it out!
I hope you enjoy it if you pick it up, and thanks for stopping by Marley!
I *wanted* to skim this review but I read most of it *hides face* OKAY SO I HAVE TSBU IN MY KINDLE AS WELL AND I NEED TO GET AROUND TO READING IT AND OMG I HOPE I LOVE IT LIKE YOU DID! Also, those quotes you’ve chosen are 😍. *rubs hands together* I can’t wait. Great review Kal!
*cackles* I hear you on trying to skim reviews when you plan on reading the book already! I really hope you love the book as much as I did… I know Rain hated the main character (self-centered and egotistical) and wound up DNFing it, so I think it may be a tad polarizing. Happy reading!
Oooh ooof. *fingers crossed* in probably going to end up spamming you now about it when I read. Oops.
Please do, spam away!
Great review Kal! I have to admit, I have yet to read any of this author’s works–though I do have Daughter of the Pirate King on my TBR. Maybe I’ll get around to it soon <3
Thank you Tanaz, and I hope you like Daughter of the Pirate King! I own that one too but haven’t picked it up yet… but I am definitely more inclined to now. Happy reading!