CanLit Bingo 2017 · r/fantasy Bingo 2017 · Review

Review | Cast in Shadow by Michelle Sagara

castinshadowTitle: Cast in Shadow

Author: Michelle Sagara

Published by: Luna

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Where I got the book:  Public library

Content Warning: Murder, child abuse, kidnapping, ritual sacrifice

“Seven years ago Kaylin fled the crime-riddled streets of Nightshade, knowing that something was after her. Children were being murdered — and all had the same odd markings that mysteriously appeared on her own skin.

Since then, she’s learned to read, she’s learned to fight and she’s become one of the vaunted Hawks who patrol and police the City of Elantra. Alongside the winged Aerians and immortal Barrani, she’s made a place for herself, far from the mean streets of her birth.

But children are once again dying, and a dark and familiar pattern is emerging, Kaylin is ordered back into Nightshade with a partner she knows she can’t trust, a Dragon lord for a companion and a device to contain her powers — powers that no other human has. Her task is simple — find the killer, stop the murders… and survive the attentions of those who claim to be her allies!” (Source)

I normally don’t binge series. But I needed something light to read during a busy and difficult time. This series has been on my list for a while and my library had the ebook available for the first book, so I decided to give it a go. That was a mistake and one of the greatest reading decisions I’ve made this year so far as I’ve been averaging about a book every two days. I haven’t binged a series so hard since I read the Kushiel’s Legacy Series by Jacqueline Carey in two weeks and have only stopped since I’m waiting on library holds for the fifth book.

Michelle Sagara’s Chronicles of Elantra is a secondary world urban fantasy cop series in which Cast in Shadow is the first book. Set in the city of Elantra, six different races populate this world. The usual humans, Leotines (cat-people), Barrani (basically Elves), Thalanni (mind-readers), Aerians (bird-people) and dragons. Michelle Sagara has done a great job creating and fleshing out the different races in a manner that’s realistic. The world building in this series is great and gets deeper with every book. And at 12 books with more forthcoming there’s a lot of world to build. Each book has a standalone plot that is resolved by the end of the book but the world building and events carry over through out the series. I’ve never read a secondary world urban fantasy before and Elantra is really well done.

Something that Michelle Sagara has used well to her advantage is Kaylin’s impulsiveness and lack of knowledge due to failing most of her classes. So a lot of the city, multiple cultures, and races get explained through out the books by other characters because Kaylin has made yet again a huge insulting error due to failing racial integration classes.

But one of the main things I love about Kaylin is how she changes over the course of the book and sequels. Even though she’s impulsive and incompetent at her studies, the law is her life and she tries very hard to protect people using the skills she has and the knowledge she gains. Michelle Sagara is really good at creating strong, compelling relationships between characters which anchor the plot and world together.

You will enjoy Cast in Shadow and subsequent sequels if you’re a fan of quick and nihilistic humour, good world-building, a cast of motley cops, romantic tension, suave and sexy morally grey villains, arrogant immortals, actually evil villains, complex relationships between different races, old and unknown magic.

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