I won a paperback copy of Of Blades and Shadows, by Belle Manuel, in a giveaway over on Instagram.
After sixteen years of living under the thumb of a brutal slaver, Arayna Gamon is given the chance to be a part of an elite group of assassins—Soul Stealers. Serving only the Dark Throne, Arayna must learn how to use her burgeoning magic to ferry souls to the Underworld. But when an ancient being demands she pay a price, Arayna must decide where to place her loyalties.
I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand I thought it had interesting characters, doing interesting things, in an interesting world. On the other, nothing even resembling an over-arching plot emergence until about page 350 and then everyone decides to deal with the issue later and it was basically dropped again. So, in essence, this is a book of interesting people in an interesting world, running around doing and reacting to random things that don’t seem to really tie into anything or tie together in any meaningful manner.
Further, as much as I liked a lot of things about the book, not least of which is the way Manuel challenged a lot of fated mates tropes and accepted behaviors. I often couldn’t quite follow what was happening or the leaps that characters took. Plus, Arayna basically emerged from slavery and challenged everyone and everything that crossed her path, even when they were significantly stronger and more experienced. While I was probably supposed to read this as strong and independent, it came off as brutish and all but suicidal—more like she couldn’t control herself than that she had a point to make.
Having said that, I’d read another. I didn’t not enjoy it and I’d be interested in seeing how things turn out for the crew.