Today on the blog, I’m bringing you another tour post! This tour is being run by TBR & Beyond Tours and, when I read the synopsis for this book, I knew I wanted in. I’ll be talking about a new YA fantasy with rebels, princes, and magic called Of Silver and Shadow by Jennifer Gruenke. And, not for nothing, but the cover is absolutely gorgeous! Of course, I’m not the only stop on this fabulous tour. There are tons of wonderful book bloggers and bookstgrammers participating! If you’d like to see who and check out their posts, click here to see the full schedule.
Before I continue, I want to thank TBR & Beyond Tours, the publisher, Flux, and Netgalley for providing me with a free e-ARC in exchange for my participation with this tour and an honest review. I always appreciate it!
And now, let’s talk about the book!
“Ren Kolins is a silver wielder—a dangerous thing to be in the kingdom of Erdis, where magic has been outlawed for a century. Ren is just trying to survive, sticking to a life of petty thievery, card games, and pit fighting to get by. But when a wealthy rebel leader discovers her secret, he offers her a fortune to join his revolution. The caveat: she won’t see a single coin until they overthrow the King.
Behind the castle walls, a brutal group of warriors known as the King’s Children is engaged in a competition: the first to find the rebel leader will be made King’s Fang, the right hand of the King of Erdis. And Adley Farre is hunting down the rebels one by one, torturing her way to Ren and the rebel leader, and the coveted King’s Fang title.
But time is running out for all of them, including the youngest Prince of Erdis, who finds himself pulled into the rebellion. Political tensions have reached a boiling point, and Ren and the rebels must take the throne before war breaks out.”
About the Author
Jennifer Gruenke is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara, where she studied communication and writing. She grew up among the redwoods of Northern California, and now lives in Charlotte with her books and the houseplants she hasn’t killed yet. If she’s not writing or reading, you’re most likely to find her in a cafe, music venue, or the aisles of Trader Joe’s.
My Review + Favorite Quotes
The player slapped his cards against the table, leaned back in his chair, and grinned.
“Impressive hand,” Ren said. She would know. She’d crafted it. “But better luck next time.”
We all know how much of a fan I am of fantasy. It is my go-to genre, my comfort zone, and where I get most of the books on my TBR. But there is something, one aspect, that, when added to a fantasy, makes me want it even more. That thing? Political intrigue! If a fantasy book promises an uprising or political power plays, I’m instantly 1000% more interested in it. That’s why when TBR & Beyond Tours sent out the email for this book and I read the synopsis, I leapt at the chance to sign up!
In this story, we’re following multiple perspectives, though there are two main characters that we’re really focused on. There’s Ren, an orphan who is a secret magic wielder that wants nothing more than to fight and play cards. And there’s Adley, one of the deadly King’s Children who will torture and fight her way to become the King’s Fang, a title that promises her eventual freedom from all the bloodshed. They both find themselves involved with a rebellion to overthrow the cruel and arrogant king: Ren as a symbol of hope and Adley as the one hunting the rebels down. But there are a lot of moving pieces in this game and nothing is as it seems.
Right off the bat, I’m going to say that this book is your classic young adult fantasy. It’s not breaking any new ground but, damn, if I didn’t have a great time! This book is fast-paced, intriguing, and a standalone, which was something I wasn’t expecting! Can we advocate for more fantasy standalones, please? Though I love a great series, it was kind of nice knowing that everything was going to be wrapped up at the end, haha. I will say that it did wrap up a tad too nicely and a bit quickly after all the build up. The pacing was fantastic throughout most of the book and then the end felt like it was a freakin’ Olympic sprint! It left me spinning and I had to take a moment to let all the pieces settle.
Darek’s towering form took up a good deal of the hallway, and his stare was so hard that Ren wouldn’t have been surprised if he was attempting to set her on fire through sheer force of will.
Something that balanced the pacing for me, though, was the writing. I loved the tone and the humor and how Gruenke’s writing completely pulled me into the world that she created. She does an incredible job of world-building without being too info-dumpy. I loved learning about the magic, the history, the politics, the rebellion… everything! I found it so fascinating and it made me eager to read so that I could learn more. And the intrigue! I thought I had things figured out and then BAM there’s a new piece on the ever-changing board! The wry humor made me chuckle more than once, as well, because we all know I love me some sarcastic main characters 😂 The banter in this is great, though there were definitely times that I wanted to shake Ren and Darek, the rebel leader who pulls Ren into their plotting.
It was easier to breathe between the pages of a book. They helped her forget about the blood under her fingernails.
At the same time, though, this book can get quite dark. There are several instances of torture and some pretty gruesome deaths that will have you squirming in your chair. Though the scenes aren’t as graphic as they potentially could be, it’s definitely not glossed over. It’s harsh and hard to read, and the fact that a lot of this torture is perpetrated by one of my favorite characters, Adley, makes it even harder to read. It makes for a fascinating character study, watching her try and process the things that she does to people, to try and justify why she is doing them. I don’t think we get enough time in the book to really delve into it, but it made her character feel a bit more complex than the others. I love Ren and Darek, but they are characters I’ve seen a million times before (the wise-cracking street rat who could potentially save a nation and the brooding rebel who
loves hates her).
Speaking of Ren and Darek, can we talk about the romance in this book? I’m not a huge fan of romance in YA fantasy books particularly because it can feel kind of forced. Like there has to be a romance or it’s not YA fantasy, ya know? At first, when I noticed the romance coming, I groaned a little. But I’m not gonna lie, I ended up super invested in Ren and Darek’s relationship! It was slow burn, hate-to-love excellence! There is also a f/f relationship between Adley and another King’s Child she has trained with. I feel like that relationship could have been fleshed out more. I wanted to be just as invested in it, but it fell a little flat for me.
Final thoughts: Though this book feels like a fairly standard YA fantasy, I had an absolute blast reading it! I enjoyed the writing and the tone immensely. I instantly connected with the wry humor and the banter made me chuckle more than once. It’s not all fun and games, though, so definitely check the trigger warnings before picking this one up! The world-building is incredible and firmly roots you in the story, making you want to know more and more as the plot develops. It’s a fast-paced read that will have you tearing through the pages, though it feels like it wraps up a little too quickly. Overall, this is an exciting, compelling, and intensely readable fantasy that will keep you captivated from page one until the very end!