Title: Circle of Shadows
Author: Evelyn Skye
Series: Circle of Shadows #1
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: January 22nd, 2019 (Balzer + Bray)
Synopsis: Sora can move as silently as a ghost and hurl throwing stars with lethal accuracy. Her gemina, Daemon, can win any physical fight blindfolded and with an arm tied around his back. They are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas—marked by the gods to be trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect the kingdom of Kichona.
As their graduation approaches, Sora and Daemon look forward to proving themselves worthy of belonging in the elite group—but in a kingdom free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion many years ago, it’s been difficult to make their mark.
So when Sora and Daemon encounter a strange camp of mysterious soldiers while on a standard scouting mission, they decide the only thing to do to help their kingdom is to infiltrate the group. Taking this risk will change Sora’s life forever—and lead her on a mission of deception that may fool everyone she’s ever loved.
Love, spies, and adventure abound as Sora and Daemon unravel a complex web of magic and secrets that might tear them—and the entire kingdom—apart forever.
“Cloak of night. Heart of light.”
The Society of Taigas is the group of warriors chosen by the gods to protect the island kingdom of Kichona. Sora and her gemina, Daemon, are final year apprentices approaching their graduation, and determined to prove themselves worthy. Kichona has been a land of peace and prosperity for the past decade since the Blood Rift Rebellion however, and the duo’s first assignment seems to be a boring and quiet one. But all that changes when they stumble across a group of soldiers who seem to possess strange and mysterious magic unlike anything the taigas use. As Sora and Daemon investigate further, they begin to uncover a dangerous plot that threatens the lives of not only those in Kichona, but beyond as well.
Sora and Daemon are both strong main characters, and they balance each other out so well! The plot itself is quite interesting, as is the world-building with its Japanese inspired themes. The gemina bond is another aspect I really liked, and hopefully it will be further explored in the sequel. I did enjoy the ryuu magic as well, especially the training scene with Sora and Virtuoso. There is a good cast of characters here, both heroes and villains (even if Prince Gin seems a little overly villainous at times).
However, I have to say that this book definitely fell short in more than one way. The taiga magic system in particular didn’t make much sense to me, and what really should have been a key aspect was relegated to the background, popping up only for the brief scenes when it was needed with little explanation. The childish names for the taigas also started getting annoying after a point. I suppose the main thing is that I didn’t find the depth that I do in many fantasy novels, where I feel involved in the story and connected to the characters – much of it fell flat.
Considering Evelyn Skye’s last novel, The Crown’s Fate, I would rate this comparatively disappointing. I nearly DNF’ed it at the 25% mark and the only reason I kept reading was because I knew it was bound to pick up at some point. I was right – the plot did eventually become a fast-paced adventure, but late enough into the book that it felt like I’d been reading for an age and a half.
Despite my misgivings, Circle of Shadows has me curious enough after that powerful ending that I will definitely be picking up the sequel whenever it releases to find out how this story ends. Overall, not a bad read, but in my opinion, there is a lot in this book that could have been so much better.