Today, it’s my pleasure to participate in the blog tour hosted by The Write Reads for a fantasy that mixes contemporary with Irish folklore. Son of Shadow by John Lenahan is the first book in a new series by the author of the Shadowmagic trilogy. I had a fun time with this one, though I kind of wish I had read the original trilogy first!
Before I get more into my review, let me thank Dave @ The Write Reads and all of the crew for giving me a spot on this tour! I also want to thank the publisher and author for sending me a free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review! All opinions contained within are my own.
Alright, now let’s get into it!
A world of faeries, leprechauns and dragons – and magic fuelled by the blood of trees.
A mystery portal to the Real World.
And a pair of curious young adventurers who know they shouldn’t step through it…
Meet Fergal the Second, nicknamed ‘two’. Or ‘Doe’, in his own language. He can do magic. But, for the moment, he’s forgotten where he’s from. Or what’s happened to his blind friend Ruby.
He’s actually from Tir na Nog, the enchanted world of Shadowmagic, where a new generation of the royal House of Duir are cheeking their parents, preparing for adulthood and itching to see the Real World for themselves – whatever the peril.
Born in Philadelphia but long settled in the UK, John Lenahan is an acclaimed magician and TV performer. He fronted his own BBC2 magic series Stuff the White Rabbit, played the voice of the toaster in Red Dwarf and has appeared on a wide range of entertainment shows including TFI Friday, Comedy Café and Celebrity Squares. He is a member of the exclusive Magic Circle. He is also the author of the popular Shadowmagic trilogy, a fantasy adventure series for young adults which combines Irish folk myth with 21st-century wit. Son of Shadow takes up the story once more, following the noble houses of the magical parallel world of Tir na Nog into the next generation.
I do love a fantasy that mixes in folklore. I’m not particularly picky about where it comes from, but I think it adds an extra something to fantasy novels. So, when I heard about the blog tour for a fantasy novel that mixes in Irish folklore, I immediately signed up!
In this novel, we follow a young man named Doe. At the beginning of the book, Doe has found himself in a bit of trouble after making a coin magically disappear. Unfortunately, he’s not of much use when the police try and question him because he has amnesia. He can’t remember most of his life, but he can do legitimate magic. Thus begins an intriguing tale that takes into a magical world and back again.
First and foremost, I have to say that I love the world that John Lenahan has created! It was rich with Irish folklore, but I love the contemporary spin he placed on it. It was well-built and interesting, which made for a fun reading experience! Reading this story makes me want to go and read his original trilogy. I mean… I know how it ends, but I feel like there’s so many more details I could get actually reading the books.
That being said, though the author was kind enough to give a synopsis of the previous trilogy, I still felt wrong-footed for most of this book. Like I was missing something about the world and the characters, some context that would make things fully click. I still enjoyed the book, but I think this is one of those instances where I needed to read the first trilogy to truly appreciate the beginning of the next one.
Still, even with my feeling like I was missing something throughout this book, I raced through it in record time! This was such a fast read, with plenty of action and intrigue to keep my interest from page one til the end. I will confess that I enjoyed certain parts more than others (I loved being in Tir na Nog!) but no part fell flat for me. It was a wonderfully crafted story and definitely something that made interested in reading more from this author.
Final thoughts: This was a fast-paced, fun fantasy filled with Irish folklore that captured my imagination. I loved all the creatures we get to meet in Tir na Nog, I loved getting to know Doe and the other characters in this novel, and I loved learning a bit about this world. I will admit that I did feel like I was missing something, having not read the first trilogy, but I still had a good time with this novel. If you like fantasy with a contemporary voice, heavy doses of Irish folklore, and quests, I think you would enjoy Son of Shadow!