A stabby, atmospheric, emotional journey... Madson's writing is just bloody gorgeous.
"My knife failed to glint dramatically in the light, but it did not fail to pierce the soft skin of the man's neck. His throat offered resistance like aged meat, but I had no time for finesse. I ripped the blade through it, spraying blood. His eyes opened. He wheezed. Bubbled. Failed. Crimson spilled upon the page before I could snatch it away, though snatch it away I did. Just as wide, fearful eyes found me they began to roll back, though whether he recognised my face I would never know."
I discovered Devin Madson through the ol' Twitter machine. See, it's good for more than just ranting, unsolicited rude pics and puppies! Although, who doesn't like puppies?!? Truthfully, I stick within the writing/reading community as much as possible because I can IGNORE THAT NOISE. I first saw Devin's cover of We Ride the Storm and knew it was something I needed to get. The sequel, We Lie With Death, recently had a cover reveal and goddamn. It's even more gorgeous! John Anthony Di Giovanni and Shawn T. King just slay with all of these covers!
In Shadows We Fall is a prequel novella to Madson's Vengeance trilogy, which takes place before the events in the Reborn Empire series. I haven't read any of those... YET! I am swamped with review books right now and I knew fitting in a novella would be much easier. I've been feeling novellas a lot, lately. They are the perfect bite-sized morsel to get the flavor of the writer. Let me tell you... I'm liking the ingredients that Madson is putting together!
This novella focuses on Empress Li, a badass who is determined to not go down without a fight. She is an "ageing" Chiltaen empress that is about to be discarded for a younger bride. Li's heritage is no longer useful to Emperor Lan, so now she must try to put a plan together to keep both herself and her children safe. With the Kisian empire on the brink of war with Lan wanting to return to its former glory, Li struggles to change her destiny foretold by a seer. One which has a tragically bleak outcome.
There are many elements at play here. Beheadings, political intrigue and a child that has a special gift.. and curse. In Shadows We Fall is a stabby, atmospheric, emotional journey. At just over 100 pages, the pace is blistering, the world-building immersive and the characters intriguing. Madson transforms this short tale into a beautiful and poetic story within an incredibly brutal landscape. Her writing is just bloody gorgeous! I'm excited to get going on the rest of her work!
"In shadows we fight. In shadows we fall."
Winner of the 2017 Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novella
Review by Holly Grimdragon
7.7/10 from 1 reviews
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