I’m not normally one of those “first chapter and I’m hooked” types of people, but I guess I can now relate after reading The Shadows Between Us. Right from the start I was intrigued… wait, she’s killed someone? She enjoys using men for gifts and pleasure? She wants to kill a king? Tell me more… That being said, there wasn’t much to this story in terms of depth and details. I felt as if the book was only skimming the top of what it could be; there was so much potential to get truly creative with the corrupt characters and the plot itself. While the first chapter set the tone for the whole book, I do feel as if the rest of the novel carried on at a more mellow pace. This does not mean I didn’t enjoy reading it; in fact, I think it would be the perfect story for getting over a book hangover, and it will give you a good distraction. It’s fun, light reading, and it’s easy to get lost in this little world without having to become too invested within the story itself.
Right away we learn so much about Alessandra, who is quite the vengeful woman, and I LOVE IT. She has such a snarky, confident attitude. We learn she has killed someone who broke her heart, she woos men into falling for her and gifting her such lavish rings, and she seems to be hell bent on making the Shadow King fall in love with her (to kill him, of course). Talk about a badass woman who takes direction into her own hands. She really only cares for herself, and has not let anyone get close to her since Hektor broke her heart and she killed him.
Side note: one good thing about reading a shorter novel is that while I could ask numerous questions about the characters and plot and demand to know answers, I don’t have to. I could ask a million questions about why Alessandra felt the need to kill Hektor, why she feels virtually no remorse, why she thinks wooing the Shadow King into making her his queen then killing him is a good plan… my list of questions could really go on and on. This is where I feel like we could have had a more profound story on our hands with all these details hiding below the surface of the book, but I digress.
Alessandra is very morally grey at heart, and I’ll admit it’s fun and refreshing to have her as a main “heroine”. She wants power and control, and not even the fact that she murdered someone can hold her back from achieving her goals. I love that she is only afraid of getting caught because she won’t ever get a taste of power. It sounds like she lives in a very male-dominant society, where first sons and daughters are given primary rights. Ew. I really don’t blame her for doing everything she can to break free from those chains and taste power for herself (see above: badass woman). When she meets Kallias, she honestly mentions that she wants to be recognized, to be seen and respected, and I get that. They both really are each other’s equal, they want power and they don’t care how they achieve that goal. The author mentions in her dedication that this book is a “Slytherin romance” and there are no truer words to describe the connection between Alessandra and the Shadow King (I also adored the dedication to a Damon Salvatore quote… Vampire Diaries was my LIFE when I was in high school, and naturally, Damon was my favorite character… in fact, the more I think about this, I feel like we can compare Katherine and Damon to Alessandra and Kallias… maybe? Ok, Vampire Diaries tangent over). Kallias is a real treat; when he stabbed one guard and hung the others after they all failed to catch the masked bandit, I actually laughed out loud. And then Alessandra wasn’t even concerned that he had just killed someone right in front of her, she was only comparing it to when she killed Hektor! I love it.
I felt like this book had strong female empowerment vibes, from Alessandra’s friendship with Rhoda and Hestia, to how Kallias respects Alessandra’s every move. He’s never seen her as anything but his equal, and I love how he is willing to share his power with her because he knows she is very capable. The Shadows Between Us does well by giving us plenty of instances where Alessandra defies the patriarchy, and the strong female characters definitely contributed to my enjoyment of the story.
The Shadows Between Us was delightful to read, and while I wish it dove further into the plot with more details, deeper characters, and darker conflict, I couldn’t help but enjoy it for what it was.