Review: Shadowmancer (Paladin Charm #1) by Devin Harnois

Marius Everhart is something even mages fear — a shadowmancer. His power marks him as cursed, a creature belonging to the Queen of Shadows. Marius escaped her realm with his memories corrupted and his sanity in tatters, managing to live a fragile, lonely existence at the edges of society.

Some might call Ayodele Sauveterre delusional. He prefers the term “optimistic”. With his homeland in danger from invasion, Ayodele will do anything to protect it, even recruit a shadowmancer. Marius’s incredible power and gentle nature make him a perfect addition to Paladin Charm, a new mage guild dedicated to helping rather than exploiting the non-magical populace. The fact that handsome Marius also warms Ayodele’s bed is a wonderful bonus.

With support from Ayodele and his new friends in the guild, Marius begins to heal. He’s also quickly falling for the alluring mage, but Ayodele struggles with what’s forming between them. Past experience left Ayodele flippant but guarded, and Marius’s open honesty unnerves him.

As they grow closer, Paladin Charm prepares for a battle with impossible odds. And in the darkness, the Queen of Shadows waits to reclaim Marius and drag him back into a nightmare.

Shadowmancer’s Marius had me hooked from the first chapter. The author built this character that grabs you by your empathy and doesn’t let go and I didn’t want him to. Marius is a shadowmancer, he’s a human who was kidnapped by the Queen of Shadows and given magic that is powerful and frightening and the life he leads in the shadows is slowly destroying his mind. When we meet him at the beginning of Shadowmancer he’s managed to escape back to the human world, all kinds of mentally damaged, and while there’s a sense of relief, Marius is surrounded by humans who fear and loathe who he’s become. I wanted to hug him and fix all the thing because he’s one of those compelling characters you root for, respect and want to protect all at the same time.

The author did a really good job of building the world around Marius and his his whole persona organically. As I said, I was on board the Marius train from page one and when Ayodele found him putting the shadow beatdown on a group of thieves Ayodele was hooked too. Ayodele is spoiled but he knows the benefits he was born with. He wants to protect his homeland from invading city states led by Ayodele’s former guild, Serpent Fang.

So, we have Ayodele’s home, which is uncomfortable with mage’s in general, with a guild established by Ayodele and his family’s cash, filled with magical misfits and here comes Ayodele with a Shadowmancer, Marius, in his ranks, preparing to defend his home against invading forces. This was probably my favorite part of the book. The dynamics in Paladin’s Charm (Ayodele’s guild) is a great read. The secondary characters and their relationships with one another is a treat. I would have been happy if the first book in this series focused on that alone to be honest. The group is overall uncomfortable with Marius, but they are also empathetic and Marius is just so damn likable and honest, he naturally works his way into their ranks.

I’m really bad at building up the background when it comes to fantasy stories, I’m the first to admit it. I don’t know why I don’t just tell you to stick to the blurb, but I don’t, and I’m sure it’s just because I want to talk about it with reading pals because there is always so much to unpack with fantastical tales. In this case, it’s the story in general and Marius and Ayodele in particular.

There’s a lot of nuggets in their relationship that I want to pick apart and mull over repeatedly. They both grow and learn to trust in their own ways throughout the story and I loved how they came together. It wasn’t without a level of angst that was necessary considering where they both came from and while I love/hated it, I needed it to make me believe in an HEA for them.

Marius has a mantra that he goes through to keep himself centered and every time I read him going through his ritual, my heart broke a little. I loved that Ayodele committed it to memory and personalized it for the evolution of Marius. You have to read it to appreciate the subtle loveliness of it all, but I ate it up.

I do want to take a little paragraph to talk about my cover love for this book. The artist nailed it hard with the characters and the mood of the story. It’s unfortunately rare that the characters are truly represented on the cover of their book. Ayodele and his beautiful eyes had me swooning and I pictured the MC’s exactly how they were portrayed on the cover.

I did have a niggle though. The wrap up of conflict was entirely too fast. Well, one was and one wasn’t. I would have been totally fine with one of them left hanging and moved into book two. There’s a lot to cover in a story of this length and the ending felt rushed considering the build up. Annnnd, I wouldn’t change the build up and considering this is the beginning of a series, a thread that continues would have been totally fine by me. There’s plenty of meat for this series to continue with the setup that was dealt out here, but the big arc should continue to give it the seriousness it was built up to have in book one. That actually makes sense believe it or not.

Overall, this was a total treat and I can’t wait to read the next installment. I miss Marius already and I hope there’s some more background on the rest of the guild. They’re a fascinating group and will make for a great series.

**a copy of this story was provided for an honest review**

No comments:

Post a Comment