The Shadows Between Us
by Tricia Levenseller
eARC, 264 pages
Published February 25th 2020 by Feiwel and Friends
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?
I received an eARC of this book from Edelweiss Plus in exchange for an honest review.
Trigger warning: murder, sexism
A mysterious king cloaked in shadows that no one can touch. A cunning and ambitious girl marrying the king only to take over his kingdom. Sounds like the beginning of a romance I would really enjoy!
As the second daughter of an earl, Alessandra is always overlooked. His father always favored her older sister and she’s always neglected until his father wanted to acquire a bride price for her. From this experience, it’s no wonder her ambition is to be seen, to make everyone who underestimated her regret doing so. She’s ambitious, cunning, and ruthless, so why not set her ambitions at the highest level: ruling a kingdom?
Unfortunately, courting the Shadow King is not an easy feat. A mysterious and well-protected figure, he’s been rejecting all his suitors. Alessandra has a plan though, and while it was successful, it was also only the beginning as she still has to get him to fell in love with her. To complicate matters, someone is out to kill The Shadow King and may end Alessandra’s reign before it can begin.
Alessandra and The Shadow King work really well together! The Shadow King is closed off, but inside he’s as cunning as Alessandra. Not necessarily ruthless like her, but he’s more effective and that can be a pretty scary thing. As their relationship developed, they become more relaxed and playful with each other. I really love their moments, the banter and steamy moments! The tension, as well as the push and shove when she realized she’s falling™ for him. It’s a con, fake-romance trope that turns for the best when they started to fall to each other for real!
They also have the same values and vision for the kingdom: to expand the kingdom and change the rules to allow women more rights and movement. Sexism and misogyny are still very much exist, with the practice of hiding women, rules for clothes, and of course, the notion of purity. Alessandra and the Shadow King both have same progressive attitudes and aim to change rules, to provide equality for all of their subjects.
As an outsider to the court, Alessandra needs allies and friends to tell her to gain intelligence on the people. Despite starting the friendship for benefit, Alessandra ended up with several loyal and true friend, with interesting background. I really wish we got to know them more, because this story is centralized on Alessandra and The Shadow King so much that they’re a literal background character.
Unfortunately, this focus on our main character and the romance also caused the book to have minimum world building and court intrigue. There are so many crumbs placed but not enough to actually explain anything. Like why become the bandit? What happened with the Pegian? And how does the shadow power got inherited? The final arc and villain reveal was also a bit rushed and does not enough build up. The actual ending of the book itself was very abrupt, it left me really feeling unsatisfied.
I really enjoyed this book while I was reading it (I gave it 5 stars) but upon writing this review, I realized there are several things that I wish were different. I wish we got more of the secondary characters, of world building and court intrigue. And I wish the final part of the book is more fleshed out and reveal paced out even more. But that doesn’t mean it was a bad book! I love the main characters and the romance, and how the story progressed. Overall, it was a great book and I look forward to read more from the author!