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Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Dark King

So I've been fairly itching to know where this series would go after the third book--Fragile Eternity--came out last year and utterly realigned my loyalties as far as the faery courts go. Well, that's perhaps not entirely accurate. They were already leaning heavily in that direction after Ink Exchange. But the developments in Fragile Eternity cemented the shift so firmly, I wondered if I would ever recover my early fondness for some characters or if, alternately, anything on God's green earth would be able to uproot my newly acquired devotion to others. Where Fragile Eternity was a more direct sequel to Wicked Lovely, Radiant Shadows is a sequel to Ink Exchange. Given the way I loved Ink Exchange, I, for one, was definitely looking forward to a couple of fresh, new characters, a possible mention of how Leslie was doing, and being back in the Dark Court with less tiresome Keenan and Ash and more magnetic Irial and Niall.

Ani is a halfling. Daughter of the Dark King's chief enforcer and a mortal woman, she sits astride the precarious line between several worlds. Raised among the Hounds, along with her two halfling siblings Rabbit and Tish, Ani comes into her own when she makes a rather unsettling discovery. Like the Dark Court she feeds off emotions, but she is also able to feed from actual contact with both humans and faeries. And it's not just a desire, it's a compulsion. Restricting her impulses, following her father's innumerable rules, Ani is on the brink of wasting away. Only the former Dark King Irial truly understands what she is. He helps her when he can, occasionally allowing her to feed off his own emotions, as he searches for a way to use her powers to benefit their people and keep her alive in the process. Devlin is the High Queen Sorcha's brother and assassin. Known as the Queen's Bloody Hands, it has been his eternal task to negotiate a path betwixt his two sisters--Order and Chaos--and maintain the balance between their opposing powers and purposes. And Devlin has never shirked his duty or fallen short in any way. Except one. When he inexplicably spared a life he was ordered to take. Since then he's stayed away, shoved any treacherous instincts he's had aside, and worked tirelessly on behalf of the High Court. Until one day he encounters the mortal who's life he spared. And all hell breaks loose as a result.

This series is wreaking havoc with my emotions and that is all there is to it. The thing is, I thought Wicked Lovely was wicked fun. I thought Ink Exchange was impossibly dark and achingly good, despite leaving me feeling a little bruised. I found Fragile Eternity problematic in many ways, but was glued to the page for the last third of the book and emerged in deep smit with a couple of Dark Kings who shall so not remain nameless. And I do mean deep smit. My love for Irial and Niall is deep and wide and full of shadows. And, as far as I'm concerned, this book (and any other she writes in this world) is worth the hardcover purchase price just for the few scenes they are in together. I am dead serious, people. I don't know how she did it but Melissa Marr has me wrapped around her little finger when it comes to the former and the current King of Nightmares. Just tell me one or (preferably) both are going to make an appearance and I am there. Their tortuous, touching relationship slays me. And such was the case here. I never really connected with Ani or Devlin, despite the fact that I thought he had some crazy good potential after his role in Fragile Eternity. I mean I love the Gabriel Hounds and their awesome steeds and pack culture. And Bananach--the War faery--is deliciously heinous and I simply love it when she tromps through a scene, bloody feathers and all. But, for some reason, I didn't care that much what happened to Ani. Not like I cared what happened to Ash or Leslie or Seth in the previous three books. And the dream subplot just did not hold my attention at all. Now, I will freely admit the possibility exists that I am actually so far gone on my two Dark Court boys that I have become insensible to the charms of lesser fae. But I'm pretty sure I'm fine with that. As long as I get more Irial and Niall in the next book--Darkest Mercy. Which, as it is also the final book in the series, is going to have to be enough to last for me a very long time indeed.

Radiant Shadows is due out April 20th.

Reading Order: Wicked Lovely, Ink Exchange, Fragile Eternity, and Radiant Shadows

The Book Bark! Review
Ellz Readz Review
I Just Wanna Sit Here and Read! Review
The Librarian's Bookshelf Review
Literary Escapism Review
The Optimistic Pessimist Review


  1. Angie - You don't have an Irial tattoo somewhere do you?! Irial remains my all time favorite Fae Court character. I'm thrilled to hear he's got a big role in this book!

  2. Dearest Angie, I love your reviews. The End.

  3. Kati, what a marvelous idea! *plots* Glad I'm not the only one in love with him. Irial is freaking awesome in this one.

    Alicia, lol. You must come get this one now. I've got it all set aside for you.

  4. *not reading the blog*
    *not reading the blog*
    *not reading the blog*

    I have just started the Ink Exchange... Gah! Why can't I seem to read the reviews that you post? First "TRoA" and now "RS"...

    Hahha. Though I must say I love your reviews... I have a lot to learn from you about how to write concisely. :-)

  5. Anonymous12:31 PM

    I agree - I love your reviews, too.

    I love Niall (I knew I would in the first book when he made an appearance with that scar. He does have a scar, right? Am I mixing him up with another character?), but I don't remember caring that much about Leslie or anything else that took place in Ink Exchange.

    Never cracked open Fragile Eternity. Mediocre reviews I read helped me stay away. However, your review reminds me why I love novels about faery (especially Holly Black's world). The Hounds, the War faery, daughter of the Dark King's chief enforcer...I think I'm really looking forward to catching up on the series.

    Thanks for the review!


  6. I got to read an ARC of this too and I really liked it. I totally agree about needing a break from the mess of Keenan/Ash and getting more of the dark kings. Mostly I just love how the stakes keep going up in each book, as if things weren't crazy enough in the one before. It's so fun!

  7. I feel you are spot on about Marr's books, but I was pretty burn out on the whole Keenan/Ash/Seth love triangle thing. Looking forward to this one.

  8. Argh. Reading about Melissa Marr books makes me feel so conflicted. I loved Wicked Lovely and I finished Ink Exchange thinking that my affection for the series had only grown, but I haven't been able to pick up Fragile Eternity. Ink Exchange was just sooooooo depressing.

    Your review is reminding me both why I love this series, and why I haven't been reading it.

  9. Brahmin, lol. You're just fine. Come back (or not) when you've finished them. :) And thank you! I'm glad you're enjoying them and hope they're helpful.

    Karen, thanks, my friend. He does indeed have a scar. A wicked awesome one. *grin* I hope you enjoy catching up. FE didn't work for me completely, but it did remind me why I love Niall so much. And watching him and Irial circle each other is bliss as far as I'm concerned. But after reading "Stopping Time" I'm a complete and utter fangirl of theirs. I don't often get so caught up in side characters. Sort of novel, really.

    Nikki, I'm so glad to hear you felt similarly. I keep trying to articulate how much I love Irial/Niall and I don't think I'm doing it justice. :) So interested to see how it's going to all wrap up.

    Princess Allie, thanks! I agree. Keenan/Ash are infuriating and wearing. Hope you like this one!

    erin, I hear ya. None of them have been anything remotely as depressing as INK EXCHANGE. Funnily enough, I did a complete re-read of IE after finishing "Stopping Time" and loved it even more the 2nd time. FRAGILE ETERNITY was not my favorite. But I liked RADIANT SHADOWS more for the most excellent Irial/Niall scenes. I'm hopeless. I know this. I think you should give "Stopping Time" a shot and see if it sparks your interest enough to continue on or not. It's less of a commitment and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  10. Anonymous10:36 AM

    If you love Nirial that much, you should read stoppin time, Melissa's short story, if you haven't already. ^_^

  11. Anonymous10:44 AM

    *stopping. Keyboard hates me.

  12. Sana, thanks for the rec. I have read it and I reviewed it here as well. I thought it was made of awesome. You a big Nirial fan as well? :)

  13. Anonymous12:40 PM

    Why yes, yes I am. I love Niall, I love Iri, and I esspecially lovelovelove them together. Even though I'm SUPPOSED to be winter court. Oh well.]


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