Unstoppable Shadow by Alex Mead | Book Review
Silas works for the Shadows, assassinating the scum of the earth. When he stumbles across a boy named Scab during a job, he has no idea how drastically his life is about to change. Seeing potential in the boy, he takes him to the Shadow Castle. Better to live a life in the shadows than one on the streets doomed to die of poverty. But what Scab experiences in the Shadow Castle will unleash a power seeded deep within him. A power intent on chaos and destruction.
Reading Unstoppable Shadow reminded me of the Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks. Albeit there is less magic and a simpler plotline, the premise of a child rescued from the streets to become a skilled killer remained the same. Scab, who later becomes known as Mara, is an interesting character study. While his inner monologue remained childish, his actions became increasingly skilled and violent. And then there is Silas, a broken man regretting his chosen path in life. As his actions continue to make him question his purpose, it seems as though his downfall leads to Mara’s uprising.
Mara and Silas’s struggles combined with the underbelly atmosphere created the perfect tone for a grimdark novel. But I do wish more time was spent with Mara while he trained. His time in the Shadow Castle was short-lived, and the animosity felt towards him grew at a rapid pace. Superstition plays a hand with some of the events, but the emotional build-up was absent as Mara’s time at the castle was summarized. If there was a bit more time spent building his character before he began his descent it would have packed a harder punch.
I was grateful Unstoppable Shadow focused on characters instead of politics. While you’ll recognize some of the events taking place are due to unseen players making moves, it does not overshadow the plot. And interest in the characters continues to strengthen as the story progresses. Silas’s fight against his haunted past and guilt drives him into desperate situations while Mara’s innocence is tested as the darkness within him grows. As the two characters weave in and out of each other’s lives tension and action abound.
Unstoppable Shadow contains a straightforward plot with complex characters. This fast-paced novel may be just the book you are looking for if you enjoy grimdark fantasy that does not delve into deep politics.
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