This was my first time reading anything by Tricia Levenseller and if it’s anything to go by then it definitely won’t be the last time I read anything by her!
I received The Shadows Between Us in the Feb 2020 FairyLoot Rulebreakers box and can definitely see how this book fitted into the brief. Neither Alessandra or the Shadow King play by the rules or conform to convention. Billed as a Slytherin Romance I was expecting lots of sneaking, cunning and trickery throughout this book – let’s just say, it did not disappoint!
Book: The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller
Genre: Fantasy, Romance (YA)
Publication Date: 25th Feb 2020
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends [FairyLoot Exclusive]
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:
1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.
No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.
But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?
“They’ve never found the body of the first and only boy who broke my heart.
And they never will.
I buried Hektor Galanis in a hole so deep, even the devils of the earth couldn’t reach him.”
When your protagonist introduces the book with these lines, you know you’re going to be dealing with someone who oozes sass and feistiness. Alessandra absolutely delivered on this – imagine Downton Abbey’s Lady Mary mixed in with dash of Bellatrix Estrange and a hint of Anne Boleyn… that’s your girl!
Her determination to reach her goal was relentless and nobody was about to foil her plans no matter how powerful or what role they had at court; ‘hell hath no fury’ and all that…!
I enjoyed the change in Alessandra’s character as parts of her plan had to evolve and things didn’t necessarily go her way. She had to undergo a transformation of getting over past hurts and learning the art of compromise and teamwork. Although Alessandra’s personality comes across to the reader through narration and interactions with other characters, it also comes through in the way that she dresses.
Clothing in particular plays a huge role in this story. I love the way Levenseller picked one element of her world to focus on as the main source of description throughout. Rather than write huge chunks describing, castles, towns and kingdoms, Levenseller shows the reader the vibrancy and attitude of the Shadow King’s court through fashion. In a way, this was a brilliant move. I am a massive fan of world building and would happily read a book with an extra 150 pages just so I can get a clearer picture in my mind of the way the author wants us to view their creative universe – but to see the way in which changes at court or in people’s emotions/feelings were reflected through what they were wearing added a decadent feeling to the whole narrative. This also echoes the importance of fashion and clothing throughout history. Think back to Tudor times when certain colours and materials were only available to those with the right money for dyes and textiles; then fast-forward to the present day and think of how haute-couture is only available to those who can afford the price-tag or garner the right publicity and influence.
The plot-line was a relatively simple one to follow and with most of the narrative being dialogue, it really helped to speed up the pace of the novel and digest what was going on. In true Slytherin style, the amount of deceptions and variety of motivations from different characters helped to keep me guessing who was actually trustworthy right until the very end – but even then I didn’t think the ending would necessarily be as simple as it was.
If you like your romances with a hint of black magic, then The Shadows Between Us would probably be right up your street. This was a wickedly dark, entrancing read which had me gripped right from the first page. It is filled with secrets, court politics and a romance developed from deception. I enjoyed the way that Alessandra was a woman championing her equal rights and standing up for herself and what she believed in. She came across as a woman with ambition who was willing to work her ass off to get there, rather than stomp around pouting with a sense of entitlement. The romance between her and the Shadow King is one of my new favourite relationships from the fictional world – they are so well-suited to each other and I’m a little gutted that there isn’t a sequel just so I can see what happens next.
Have you read The Shadows Between Us? Would you recommend any other Tricia Levenseller books? What other Hogwarts House romance are you craving in your bookish lives? As always, drop me a comment to chat! 🙂