Book Review: Sandy Williams’ The Shadow Reader

Posted April 18, 2013 by Kathy Davie in

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Sandy Williams’ The Shadow Reader

The Shadow Reader

is a paperback edition on October 25, 2011 and has 307 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

First in the Shadow Reader urban fantasy series and revolving around McKenzie Lewis, a human who can dispel illusion by reading the shadows.

My Take

I don’t usually categorize books as girly or manly, but I just realized — as I wallowed in the cover! — that I do think of this one as more of a girl’s UF. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of violence, but the underlying theme here is of love. The guy who realizes too late what he’s losing. The girl who discovers she’s worth more. Who wants to do what’s right, but love keeps getting in the way. And, yes, it made me cry…a lot.

Part of me appreciates how carefully Williams kept McKenzie from caving in to the rebels, keeping her suspicions alive throughout most of the story. Another part of me is rather irritated with McKenzie’s rigid adherence to believing that only King Atroth’s version is the correct one. She appears to be intelligent. Wouldn’t she realize there are always two sides to any dispute?

My first disconnect was McKenzie’s too brief rebellion against holding the anchor stone. She makes a good point and then immediately collapses. WTF?

The budding romance? I dunno. There’s a falsity there that bothers me. I appreciate Williams teasing us with it, but there’s something missing. Of course, it could just be my romantic side wanting things to work with Kyol.

On the whole, Shadow Reader is obvious in how most of the action plays out, although I am torn over McKenzie’s ultimate choice. And she’s absolutely right. I’ll still cry, though… Williams also has her characters use a lot of misdirection. Yes, her usage is just that tad too conspicuous, and it’s enough to keep you wondering. I do like how Williams interprets our real-life human concerns and conflicts with the environment into the fae conflict; it makes an interesting twist.

The Story

Damn it, damn it, damn it. They never listen! All McKenzie needed was one week, and she could have a life.

Instead, Fate intervenes and McKenzie is kidnapped by the Rebels. She will learn more than she wanted, and what she needed.

The Characters

McKenzie Lewis is a Shadow Reader, a human who can read illusions and trace where a fae fissures away to. It’s a rare skill and both sides want to use her. The question is, which side deserves her? Paige is one of her few human friends.

Kyol Taltrayn is McKenzie’s fae handler and the king’s sword-master. They’re in love, but it’s a forbidden love. He is intended to life-bond with Jacia, daughter of Srillan.

The ruling fae are referred to as the Court fae
King Atroth was elected to his throne and is a descendant of the Tar Sidhe. Lord General Radath leads his armies. Lord Raen is an elder of Cyneayen, a high noble of Tayshken, and Kelia’s father. Daz, Taber, and Garrad are guards. Mici, son of Riagar is ther’rothi, one who walks the In-Between.

Shane is a human who works for the Court fae. Evan is a shadow reader who worked for the rebels before the Court caught him.

The rebels include:
Aren, son of Jorreb, the Butcher of Brykeld”, is also a healer. Trev; Lena, daughter of Zarrak; Sethan is her brother and the rebels’ preference for king. Kelia is fae and Naito is human, a forbidden love, and yet they are a couple. Naito’s father is rabidly anti-fae. Tom is one of his vigilantes.

Sosch is a kimki, a cross between a ferret and a cat; their fur changes color when near gates or things to which they’re attracted.

Thrain is a false blood who kidnapped McKenzie in the beginning and brought her to the king’s attention.

If I’m interpreting Williams’ correctly, “false bloods” are fae who violently rebel, “claiming to be the chosen progeny of the Tar Sidhe, the magically superior fae who ruled…before”.

Tor’um, walkers, are fae who don’t have enough magic to fissure. “Most are born that way, some lose their magic later in life.” Chaos lusters, edarratae, are like miniature lightning bolts that flash along or from the skin, I think, when a fae is on earth or a human is in their world or when a human and fae touch. Fissures are a manipulation of the atmosphere to allow travel between earth and the Realm, the world of the fae.

The Cover and Title

The cover is very pretty in its pinks and oranges (I do love that color combination in my art!) and sparkles and bubbles with McKenzie dressed in a skintight khaki green tank top hovering above her even more skintight faded and worn bluejeans tucked into her brown knee-high boots. Ya know she’s no bimbo, not when she’s carrying that very bright looking katana!. While her body may be facing that floor-length window overlooking a cityscape, her head is turned back to look at us, a look of mischievous daring on her face.

The title introduces us to McKenzie, for she is The Shadow Reader, a rare one with her particular powers.


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