Thursday, October 11, 2018

[Book Review] Soul Shade by T.L. Branson

Book Review of Soul Shade by T.L. Branson

Soul Shade by T.L. Branson was an absolutely wonderful addition to the Soul Stone series. I keep thinking these book can't get better, but somehow... they do! I had SO much fun reading this!

I've said it before... If you're a fan of brilliant fantasy novels with wonderful characters, a dash of humor, and a splash of brutal violence, you need to check out this series by T.L. Branson!

I would definitely recommend checking out the short stories, then the first full-length book, Soul Render, before diving into Soul Shade. It isn't necessary to read the short stories, but it definitely adds to the overall experience if you read the shorts first.

If you missed my reviews for the short stories or book one, feel free to click below and then come back here!
Full disclosure: I was part of the ARC reading team for this release and therefore snagged an unfinished copy from the author. This did not affect my review in any way, but please note that some of the quotations that I include later on may differ from the final copy.

Without further delay, let's dive in to my review of Soul Shade!

Soul Shade by T.L. Branson

Synopsis:
Death lies around every corner.

The newly crowned queen of Aralith, Maya Drygo, is reeling from the loss of her father and the destruction of her city. With the threat of war looming beyond the horizon, she must race to rally the kingdom against an unknown threat, but trouble lies closer to home than she realizes.

When Maya’s refusal to forgive Will Sumner for her father’s death leads to a difference of opinion around battle preparations, Will storms off to take matters into his own hands. Now Maya is left to navigate the politics of being queen on her own.

In the cutthroat realm of lords and ladies, Maya learns everything is not as it appears. With no one but a stranger standing beside her, she realizes if she’s to survive she’ll have to give what she never has before: trust.

The kingdom is falling apart, the gods of old are reawakening, and a bloodthirsty enemy stands between her and the peace she’s fought so hard to protect.


My thoughts:
In chapter one, I love that we start with a bang. We’re with Khate and she is running through an alley, being chased. During that chase, we get a quick two paragraphs that recap what had happened in the first book in a short, but very effective way! I just love when authors do this! It's so helpful to the readers.

In following chapters, when we are reintroduced to the other characters, there are very short bits added in to recap previous events as well. I especially appreciated the quick sentence or two that the author included here and there which reminded the reader of the specific soul stone and the related goddess each character had.

I really enjoyed the new character we met, Sowena Restarick! She was so stubborn when it came to what she believed in. She attracted quite a bit of poor luck, but she was so brave! I really loved how much she adored and looked up to the queen.

I loved learning more about the soul stones and how each of them worked! I especially the Stone Mirror and I was so happy to see how the power from that one played into the story.

Throughout the book, the chapters jump between groups of our favorite characters. Toward the middle, I began to get really antsy to see how it would play out. I couldn’t wait to see if they would all eventually come together or if they would keep just barely missing one another.

One of my favorite elements of the story was how well each storyline was added and when in the overall organization of the chapters. It flowed SO well. However, it also made it impossible to put the book down as many chapters ended with a bit of a cliffhanger, so I just couldn’t wait to see what happened when we saw that character again a few chapters later!

Speaking of flow, I love how the author made use of the method where one character is thinking about something or doing something, and then we immediately move to another character that is thinking about or doing something similar. One example of this was in one section of chapter 24. In this chapter, Ocken was thinking about Khate, wondering if she was still in Celesti or if she had moved. He thinks to himself “Maybe they lived in Penrythe now for all he knew.” Shortly after that, the chapter breaks and we’re with Khate, who was walking off of a ship and entering a town a few miles from Penrythe.

This book didn’t hold back at all when it came to the action and brutality. And my goodness, the deaths of some of the characters came as a total shock to me! Especially one near the end. That one is going to take me a while to get over...


My favorite passages: 
Ascending the lone step, she pushed open the door. A cacophony of terrible music, raucous laughter, and clattering mugs greeter her - the pungent odor of sweat and stale beer accompanying it.

Most everyone knew that if a sea captain wasn’t on his ship, he was at the bar.

The time for dreams was over. Now was the time for action.

It all felt like a dream to her. In some regards it seemed too fanciful- like it was straight out of a novel. Lava pits, dragons, magical stones, and a narrow escape? A year ago, Khate wouldn’t have believed any of it. Well, besides the magical stone bit. Those dastardly things had a way of pushing into her life.

Robert's face was flat and stalwart, staring straight ahead as he walk. He was five feet in front of Ocken  but he looked a million miles away. If Ocken didn’t do something fast, Robert was going to go into shock.

He could play the “What if” game all day long. He knew he shouldn’t. He understood that dwelling on hypotheticals would only lead to guilt and depression. He couldn’t change the past so there was no use dwelling on it.

“Besides, I could use a little spice in my life.”
“If you had any more spice you’d have to change your name to Basil,” Bryn said.

The shadows were her element. It’s where she went to unwind and get away from the stresses of life. Stepping up onto a crate, she hopped over onto a wooden awning that stood out over someone’s back door. One giant leap upward and her fingers grabbed the lip of the rooftop ledge. Khate pulled herself up and lay down on the stone wall, crossing her arms behind her head.

Ocken roared and charged, picking up an elf and using his body as a shield as he barreled his way though, punching a hole for Will, Robert, and Sowena to slip through.


My final thoughts:
A wonderful follow up to the first book in the series! I very highly recommend checking out both Soul Render and Soul Shade as soon as you can.

And yet again... I just cannot wait to see where this story goes next!



Thanks for reading!

8 comments:

  1. Yay- five stars! I love when series just get better and better.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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  2. Great review! Sounds great. I'll definitely have to check it out.

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  3. I haven’t heard of this series. I’ll have to check it out. Fantasy is a hit or miss with me and this one sounds fun.

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    1. Same here! I need my fantasy to be really interesting and action packed; and that is definitely this series!

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  4. I need to start this series! Fantastic review. :)

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