Review: Heart of Shadow by Sarah K.L. Wilson

Posted by Jessi (Geo) on January 26, 2024 | 0 Comments

Review: Heart of Shadow by Sarah K.L. WilsonHeart of Shadow by Sarah K.L. Wilson
Series: Seven Swords #1
Published by Independent (11.24.2021)
Genres: High Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: eBook, 227 pages
Source: Kindle Unlimited

3 Stars

I'm hiding in my father's closet, desperately picking the lock on a box containing an ancient evil when he emerges. He doesn't seem all that evil. But neither did my friends before they turned into monsters. I'd like to think that I don't need him. But I love books and he loves battles. I'm used to drinking tea and he's used to drinking the blood of his enemies. Or whatever his kind drink. In a world stricken by plague, all my friends have become terrifying monsters, and I have no other option but to trust him to keep me safe. He'll teach me to hunt those monsters and I'll try not to fall hopelessly in love with him.

My thoughts

I am Ilsaletta Redtide. My father is Admiral Redtide of the Kingdom of Cragspear. I will not die as a mouse in the darkness.

This book started off STRONG! In the beginning, I was hooked. It was also very quotable – I highlighted so many passages! But sadly, by the end I had very mixed feelings about it because it went downhill in the last half.

The main thing that I enjoyed about this book was the concept. It was AMAZING, and unlike anything I’ve ever read before! I loved the idea of the Nakuraki (guardian of empires, defender of queens), a soul trapped in the shadow of a sword for a thousand years. He could prevent physical blows but could touch nothing without violence. SO. COOL. However….Vargaard? I hated his stupid ass name so much *cries*

While I loved Vargaard, I couldn’t stand Ilsaletta. She was whiny AF and cried a LOT. Okay, some situations tears were warranted, sure; but I felt like she was doing it CONSTANTLY and it grated on my nerves. She also made stupid decisions left and right, against Vargaard’s advice – then would be like “I should have listened to him” after it went sideways. Yet continued not to listen to him?? She was extremely immature and brash, and tbh utterly useless. Vargaard was constantly doing all the work and saving her stupid ass because she was a moron.

I felt like the relationship between Ilsa and Vargaard moved too fast. I was torn between loving his wild declarations and thinking them dramatic because he’d just met her. He was making grand declarations about how he would die for her pretty early on. At times I was torn between loving it and finding them over dramatic because he’d just met her. It would probably have made my heart melt if it would have moved slower, because I did like their bond and relationship even though it moved extremely fast.

I will hold onto you, Ilsaletta. I won’t let you face it alone. I will walk with you and though I may not touch you, my arms will shield you, and though I cannot carry you, I will carry your burdens. Though I cannot feed you, I will not let you go hungry. Sick or well, dying or vibrant, destitute or rich, beautiful or withered, innocent or drenched in blood – I will cling to you and guard you, I will honor you and lift you up.

The princess seemed like a cartoon villain to me. I like that she was subverting a trope, but she was too over-the-top cartoony – like seriously she monologued. 

But speaking of subverting tropes – Stekkan the wimpy duke was annoying at times, but was actually kinda cool in the end (albeit a bit dumb). I kinda felt bad that Ilsaletta kept talking down to him, when he was basically akin to a kicked puppy.

Like I said, this started off really strong and the concept is where this book shines. Unfortunately, it feels very YA especially in the last half.

Overall Assessment

Plot: 3.5/5
Premise: 4.5/5
Writing style: 3/5
Originality: 4/5
Characters: 3/5
World-building: 3/5
Pace: 4/5
Feels: 2/5
Cover: 4/5
Overall rating: 3/5

Jessi (Geo)

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