Circle of Shadows by Evelyn Skye
Series: Circle of Shadows #1
Genre: Fantasy (YA)
Publication Date: 22nd January 2019
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Circle of Shadows is the first instalment in a brand new series by Evelyn Skye and its filled with magic, friendships, ninja-style sass and a brand new tigerific world for us to get lost in. I was supposed to be reading this as a buddy-read on Instagram but the story just grabbed me and before I knew it I was near the end! Also, this formed as one of the twelve books on my TBR for the OWLs Magical Readathon so I was quite keen to motor through.
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
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.
Now this review was actually fairly difficult to write which is probably why it’s taken me so long to get it posted. I’ll go through my main musings about Circle of Shadows and then at the end I will attempt an overall verdict of this novel.
A lot of things in this book are centered around tigers; even the Kingdom of Kichona itself. Maps in books are one of my favourite things ever and the map of Kichona at the beginning of this book did not disappoint. Shaped like a leaping Tiger, many aspects of the world are linked to parts of its anatomy: the eye is the Imperial City, Stiped Coves refer to the tiger’s infamous stripes and there’s even a town called Tiger’s Belly. Kichona gained its wealth from the Tiger Pearls which are fished from the waters around the island. Lastly, members of the famous ninja society at the centre of Circle of Shadows are called Taigas in honour of the animal and Kichona’s heritage. I loved that this motif ran through so many elements of the story. It really helped to blend the plot, storyline and characters all together.
Food Glorious Food
🚨WARNING: Do not read this book on an empty stomach if you like Asian food! Seriously, the mentions of foods in this book was vivid. Now I am a huge foodie so the way Evelyn Skye included these ‘taste notes’ when they were visiting different places around Kichona was a major factor in winning me over. Miso-glazed butter-fish, fried shrimp, bamboo shoots braised in sticky soy sauce, bacon-wrapped shrimp, ginger-honey chicken skewers, Autumn Festival cake (a ten layered cake rich with lemony yuzu and confectioners’ sugar)…need I go on? Take me to Tanoshi already, I’m salivating over here!
“Work Hard. Mischief Harder.”
Spirit (Sora), Wolf (Daemon), Fairy and Broomstick form as the main gang of characters within the story and I loved the vibes their friendship gave off throughout the novel. Their motto ‘Work hard. Mischief harder,” really encapsulated the way they stick by each other no matter what and put themselves in potentially hazardous or dangerous situations just to help each other out. It reminded me a little of Harry, Ron and Hermione’s relationship from the Harry Potter series. They really are a brilliant foursome.
From Forbidden Love to…a Love Triangle?!
Sora & Daemon/Fairy & Broomstick are geminas which means that they are bound together and can communicate emotions to each other through a bond (…think Rhysand and Ferye ACOTAR fans). Unfortunately for Daemon, geminas cannot form romantic relationships with each other so his feelings towards Sora are not only forbidden, but on Sora’s part they’re also seemingly unrequited. This forbidden love trope was quite subtly done throughout a majority of the book and Skye definitely didn’t overdo it or make it tacky – but then…without giving too much away, we seem to have an is it/isn’t it love triangle thrown in right towards the end which left me actually quite perplexed and slightly angry as it just didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the story and the impressions I’d built up of these characters.
This story is told in the 3rd person and starts off primarily from Sora’s viewpoint. But then, as the plot gets more complex, we seem to have viewpoints from a whole host of other characters which at times left me confused as to who’s perspective I was actually reading from or where I was in the story. I guess the giveaway for the narration came from the fact that the first sentence in the chapter starts with the character’s name but the whole shifting perspectives kind of detracted me away from the flow of the story at times.
The whole idea of shifting kind of sums up what I really feel about this whole story. Whilst reading and being caught up in all that was going on I thoroughly enjoyed it.
- The interactions between characters was fun and I did like them all. Even the villain had me doubting whether they were actually an enemy or just a victim of past suffering who genuinely believes their course of action is for the ‘greater good’.
- The magic was intriguing. I was keen to find out how and why the Ryuu could use magic differently to the Taigas.
- Skye’s narrative was were well-written in many places and I am partial to flowery descriptions of things.
It’s only when I sit back and try to pick apart the novel for a review where my opinions about it start to change. The plot is fairly predictable in places and the ending seemed to leave me with a strange feeling as if it had been rushed or had taken on a whole different tangent to what had been laid out in the rest of the novel.
Immediately after finishing it, I gave the novel 4 out of 5 and I do stand by that. There are plenty of things that I enjoyed and liked Circle of Shadows whilst reading. I will probably read the second one in the series to see where it all goes and if my questions are answered.
If you haven’t read Circle of Shadows yet and you’re going to give it a chance, I’d recommend you treat this as a fun read, don’t dissect it too deeply and just enjoy the ride.
Have you read Circle of Shadows yet? Did you have as many conflicting feelings as me? Drop me a comment and let me know!