Audiobook review: Shadow Wizard by Jeffe Kennedy
The opening scenes of Shadow Wizard overlap slightly with previous book, Grey Magic, with Selly (Seliah) and Jadren helping Gabriel and Nic escape her captivity. They stay behind to deal with the magical hunters when Selly is taken captive by the brutal House Samerhill, and Jadren must use his Convocation High House upbringing to free her. Unfortunately, things go from bad to worse, when the pair ends up as guests in House El-Adrel under Jadren’s mother’s hospitality.
Shadow Wizard kicks off the much awaited sequel series to the wonderful Bonds of Magic series. The title is the first in the Renegade Magic series which continues the stories started in Bonds of Magic with Gabriel and Nic, but the focus switches to Gabriel’s younger sister, Seliah, and the wizard Jarren El-Adrel.
Both Selly and Jadren are outcasts, carrying the weight of neglect and abuse. While hers was due to ignorance and unintentional, his was conducted with horrifying intent by his mother. They are both deeply scared, but she faces the future with brightness while he is disillusioned and sardonic. He is haunted by his past, preventing him from moving forward. She is held back by her past and may be stunted emotionally, but is thirsty for knowledge and wants to move past it.
Right from the start, Jadren lusts after Selly, but he will never pursue her for a multitude of reasons. Yet, the more one-on-one time the couple spends together, the closer they get and the harder it is to turn off his desire. I liked the story best when it focuses on the couple, and I can watch each grow and develop into the person they are meant to be. They are better together because they trust and give without judgement. Their growing bond is fragile and beautiful. However, much of the book is about what happens to them, and I was reeling from the torture, implications of such, discussion of such, etc. My anger towards the people behind it sometimes overwhelmed my enjoyment of the story.
Narration: The story is primarily shared via the alternating third person POVs of Jarden and Seliah. There are some chapters also shared from Gabriel and Nic’s POVs. Using a British accent, Ms. Balm narrates the entire story with a deepish and slightly raspy voice. Overall, her performance is soothing and easy to listen to. Giving a partially-voiced reading, she adjusts the dialogue for most characters, albeit just enough to know different characters are speaking. She tends to be a little higher pitched for females, and softer and lower for males. She adjusts appropriately for mood and emotion.
Shadow Wizard is a highly emotional story. I love Seliah and Jadren together. This book is not a romance per se, as their story is not over and there is not an HEA. I loved learning more about Jadren’s unique magic and look forward to seeing the pair discover what they can do together.
About the Book:
Spy, manipulator, traitor… He might be her only salvation.
Lady Seliah Phel can’t escape feeling like she’s one of those fairytale princesses awakened from a long slumber—except that her life is no romantic story and there’s no happy ending in sight. Though she has her magic and she’s been rescued from the depths of madness that consumed her since adolescence, Selly finds that the years she lost aren’t so easily recovered. Everyone treats her like the child they remember. To prove something—perhaps only to herself—she’s recklessly volunteered to stave off a host of monsters with only the enigmatically alluring, cuttingly sarcastic, and probably deceitful wizard Jadren El-Adrel for company.
Jadren isn’t the heroic type. In fact, he’s not much of anything. Relentlessly groomed into a shadow of a man by his sadistic mother, he’s the perfect spy and tool, with no real will of his own. When he’s stranded in the wilderness with Seliah Phel, he figures the outcome is immaterial. Live or die, it’s all the same to him. But Seliah is a different story and she isn’t like anyone else. Though he reminds himself she’s basically a child in a woman’s body, he finds it increasingly difficult to resist her artless charms and relentless curiosity.
As their predicament goes from dire to disastrous, Jadren realizes his many failures have jeopardized Selly’s future, perhaps her very life. Far from home and trapped without resources, Selly has only Jadren to rely upon—the one person she can’t possibly trust. There seems no possibility of rescue from their friends and family back home at House Phel, so Jadren and Selly must work together to survive… if they can.
Author: Jeffe Kennedy
Narrator: Deborah Balm
Series: Renegades of Magic #1 (Bonds of Magic #4)
Genre: Fantasy w/romantic elements
Audiobook Release Date: October 26, 2022
Publisher: Brightlynx Publishing
Length: 10 hrs and 1 min
Audio Speed: 1.3x
Audible/Amazon (affilate link)