Genre: Fantasy — Young Adult
Series: Ongoing Series Planned
Publisher: Tor (February 28, 2017)
Length: 400 pages
My Rating: 3.5 stars
Game of Shadows by Erika Lewis is a Celtic inspired fantasy with non-stop action and loads of humor. Definitely, it is more tailored to the young adult reader due its cast of teenage characters and less graphic nature, but I can see many age groups finding this tale an enjoyable escape from reality.
The star of the show is Ethan, a high school freshman, who lives with his single mother and has a fairly normal life except for two things. One, his mother is horribly overprotective, not allowing him to go anywhere – even school – by himself. And, two, Ethan has the ability to see and speak with ghosts! A talent which doesn’t bother him, but which he knows his peers might not completely understand or accept if they ever found out.
But everything changes for Ethan on his birthday. Wishing to exert his growing independence, he sneaks out of the house to walk to school with the girl he has a horrible crush on. Out of the blue, a stranger shows up, announcing that he is Ethan’s bodyguard and that his mom has been kidnapped. The appearance of this person beginning Ethan’s descent down the rabbit hole!
Soon, secrets are revealed at a dizzying pace. Ethan learning things about his mother, his deceased father, where his family is from, and, most importantly, who he really is!
For those seeking a comfortable coming-of-age tale, Game of Shadows is a perfect fit. The narrative filled with familiar fantasy tropes, loads of constant excitement, and enough teenage daring-do to satisfy anyone’s craves.
What was particularly interesting to me was Erika Lewis’ interesting take on Celtic mythology and the world she builds around it. This magical place very unique, with distinct areas and inhabitants, filled with every fantastical creature and ability a reader could dream for. All of it screaming out to be explored in further adventures of Ethan and his friends.
There were several negatives I had with the novel however.
First, I struggled to connect with the main character. Ethan is presented as a very nice teenager, one who is fairly intelligent, quite loyal to those he loves, has his heart in the right place and tries to do the right thing, even when it puts him in harms way. All of which sounds great. What became increasingly annoying about him was his instantaneous acceptance of every shocking revelation presented to him, his lack of suspicion about anyone or anything, and his refusal to listen to anything except what he wanted to hear. Obviously, this description perfectly fits many teenage boys (I should know. I live with three of my own.), but it seemed a bit hard to believe that Ethan would remain this way throughout his adventures.
Second, the forced love interests. I know, I know, love interests and love triangles are absolute requirements of every Young Adult story these days. Fine, I can accept that. Here, however, the love interests did not seem realistic, felt forced, and really didn’t add very much to the narrative. Perhaps I missed something, but I really felt this element was in the story just because it had to be.
Entertaining, fast-paced, and fun, Game of Shadows is a Young Adult adventure full of interesting teen characters and takes place in a magical world waiting to be explored. Certainly, I had a problems with a few story elements, but, overall, I enjoyed my time spent with Erika Lewis’ creation and find it to be a promising start to a YA series well worth paying attention to.
I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.