A Tale of Light and Shadow, Book 2: Secrets of Neverak, by Jacob Gowans (Sept. 2015, Shadow Mountain), $18.99, ISBN: 978-1-60907-978-9
Recommended for ages 12+
Book 2 in the Tales of Light and Shadow series continues with Secrets of Neverak, picking up immediately where the first book left off, after the battle that saw our group of heroes split up and facing danger at every turn. Henry, James, Maggie and Ruther have to travel across Neverak to find Isabelle; Isabelle must learn to survive her circumstances. The Emperor is setting plans in motion, seemingly unhindered by anyone – or is he?
We get much more character development in this second book in the series, and meet some new characters that encounter the party – for better or for worse. Every character has his or her own inner demons to fight, which makes for deep and textured reading; the main characters are accessible and likable. The Emperor is the classic, megalomaniacal villain that you want to see taken down. There’s not a lot of gray area with the characters – like the book’s title, you have light and dark, and the lines are pretty clearly drawn. The book’s ending left me knowing that the big finale is coming, and looking forward to it.
Teen girls will find adventure and a lot of melodrama. We’ve got tormented inner monologues and unrequited love aplenty in this volume! Not being a teenage girl, I preferred the adventure and intrigue, but girls who love romance will be thrilled with this second entry into the series. Parents and educators will be happy at the continued importance of morality and values in the book. Shadow Mountain puts out very clean books, and having them on the shelves is great for me to steer my more conservative readers toward.
Tales of Light and Shadow is a solid fantasy series for all readers. Check out my review of the first book, A Tale of Light and Shadow, to learn more.
A Tale of Light & Shadow, by Jacob Gowans (2014, Shadow Mountain), $9.99 (paperback), ISBN: 978-1609079819
Recommended for ages 12+
The world of Atolas is a world where emperors and kings rule the land. Wealth determines one’s place in society, and social stations carry more weight with some of the populace than with others. Isabelle and Henry have grown up side by side and have fallen in love. Henry, a prosperous carpenter, wants to marry Isabelle, whose wealth is in name alone, but her father won’t allow it. When her father turns to a terrible way to get Isabelle out of the way and get to her mother’s gold, Henry comes to her rescue – and their group, including their siblings, Henry’s childhood friend, Ruther, and Henry’s apprentice, Brandol – find themselves on the run from the Emperor’s guard. There are rough times ahead for Isabelle, Henry, and their group. There will be betrayals, secrets, and a hard journey to freedom for them all.
I really enjoyed this book, the first in a new series by author Jacob Gowans. It reminds me of an old-school adventure, with the young lovers in peril, the hidden betrayer, an epic journey both in body and in spirit – each of the characters in the group goes through emotional upheaval through the course of the book – and a thread of magic that promises to grow stronger as we progress through the series. I love this book because it’s the kind of book I can give to my more conservative teens, my teens who love a good romance, and my teens who love an epic fantasy. It’s a relatively clean book – there’s some battle violence and references to concubines – but it’s within acceptable levels for teen reading. Fans of older movies will be drawn into the sprawling lands and hero’s journey that lays ahead. The ending of the book promises a sequel that will pick up where this first book leaves off.
Speaking of that second book, guess what’s next on my night table? So get ready, check out A Tale of Light and Shadow, and get yourselves up to speed for the next book in the series, Secrets of Neverak.