Shadows & Starstone by Cheryl Mackey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
4.5 Cranky Stars!
I read this book for The Book Curmudgeons and give it 4 1/2 stars.
I loved this young adult novella and prequel to The Unknown Sun. It helps establish the character’s background. Each character has a gift or talent from the Gods. All four ride horses and seem to be single minded in their resolve to complete their mission. It reminded me of the Dungeons and Dragons games I played as a kid. We almost always were victorious at our quests because we had a healer and wizard and burly warriors and we always seemed to work together well - just like the characters in this fantasy series.
I like that they are not just empty characters killing bad guys. They each have a secret – a longing – an ironic twist of fate. It has a great concept having the immortal beings remembering past lives. I was glad that the heroes had fear and other emotions. I loved that the characters didn't wear skimpy clothing which is so unrealistic for a warrior to wear. In other words this is not a fantasy story written by a twelve year old little boy, but a novella with heart and promise.
From page one the reader is hooked as a stranger wanders into a small town to share a communal bonfire. The first character, Emaranthe, saunters into a village, which leaves the people wondering who this small girl in the dark hood could be. She wears her long blonde hair in plaits and has golden eyes. The bravest town’s person was Aggie and she seems to be the spokesperson for this mining town. Even after Emaranthe tells Aggie and the others there is an evil coming they seem to scoff and ask lots of questions. The other three arrive soon after Emaranthe.
It is with the arrival of the others that the town’s people seem to take the words of Emaranthe to heart and hide. The elf, Jadeth, was a tall thin creature with blue eyes and red hair---a healer, though they were afraid of her, but it was really the warning of doom that gripped them. The other two warriors were brothers who wore full armor and a helmet. It is Jaeger, one of the brothers, that introduces the starstones as powerful. If he succeeds the races would be killed and the land would be laid barren. It is up to the four heroes to save the world.
The plot unfolds in the desert around the town, where the starstone mines are. The battles include lots of working together and also strong female roles. As the battle for the starstones ensues, the author uses flashbacks to explain each character’s mindset and why they have the talents they have.
The sophisticated flashbacks helped this reader understand the mindset of the characters and feel for them. I hope in future books the evil side will become more developed. I also want to know more about the rulers and the four gods. Is this a past earth, like the Lord of the Rings, because the author mentions horses and coyotes? I am so happy that I have a new series to read and recommend to boys and girls 12 and up.
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