"Shadow Heir" book 4 in the Dark Swan series by Richelle Mead is simply fantastic.
I discovered this gem of a series in 2011 and eagerly anticipated the release of the 4th installment, Shadow Heir. The book is worth the wait. Kudos to Ms. Mead, Shadow Heir brings a delightful series to a satisfying conclusion. Although its ending leaves the door open for many possibilities; or is that wishful thinking on my part.
Shadow Heir continues during the timeline established at the end of “Iron Crowned”, the 3rd book in the series. As Eugenie pregnancy progresses her growing concerns of the health of her unborn babies have driven her to extreme measures in seeking prenatal care. It is during this time that help arrives in the form of the most unlikely character that we see the depth of her plight and the sacrifices she is willing to make to protect her children; even as a darker threat looms in the shadows.
Ms. Mead's use of what I would call "A Long Day’s Journey into Night" as the backdrop for some serious Eugenie introspective analysis. The book does an exceptional job of bringing Order to chaos and revealing things at face value. Eugenie has many demons plaguing her and for once she is not the old bystander her choices effect. The growth of her character can be seen on so many levels. No longer are her thoughts and actions centered solely on her own whims. There are others within the human realm as well as the Otherworld to be considered. Even her own body has made it apparently clear that she is no longer and island. I would say that lack of genuine comprehension of Dorian’s motivations is still a constant source of part comic relief and reader frustration.
As a character, Dorian can be pragmatic and calculating. His lazy, cavalier attitude belies his strength of will and resolve need in a monarch. What surprises me most about him is his unwavering support of Eugenie regardless of the emotional turmoil surrounding their relationship. It’s these moments that best endear him to a reader. Ms. Mead takes great pains in noting Dorian's uncanny and most unsettling ability to slip from his carefree, jovial monarch persona and into the authoritative persona of a shrewd and cunning predator.
In Previous installments in the series there have been occasions when Dorian's mannerisms have been in stark contrasts to his actions. It is only as the Shadow Heir story-line progresses that a true understanding of his nature and feelings can be understood.
They say “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”, Shadow Heir shows just how meaningful and truthful that statement can be. It’s really a profound statement that resonates as the rag tag group of would be rescuers attempts to break the strangled hold encompassing parts of the Otherwold. The supporting cast of the characters includes some of the series best and worst; the treacherous and totally misguided Kiyo Marquex, he started out as such a likable character. The ever stoic deadpan Volusia is one of my favorite characters; his scenes with Eugenie are priceless. The fair Jasmine Delaney, who has blossomed under Eugenie’s trust and companionship. Each manages to play an intricate part in the quest resolving the current crisis. The book is filled with tender moments and harsher realities. The combination of a few heart wrenching events and a couple of revelations that will set a reader back on their heels dumbfounded.
Shadow Heir, delivers the goods and leave a reader wanting more. I highly recommend it.
#1 New York Times bestselling author Richelle Mead returns to the Otherworld, a mystic land inextricably linked to our own--and balanced precariously on one woman's desperate courage...
Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham strives to keep the mortal realm safe from trespassing entities. But as the Thorn Land's prophecy-haunted queen, there's no refuge for her and her soon-to-be-born-children when a mysterious blight begins to devastate the Otherworld...
The spell-driven source of the blight isn't the only challenge to Eugenie's instincts. Fairy king Dorian is sacrificing everything to help, but Eugenie can't trust the synergy drawing them back together. The uneasy truce between her and her shape shifter ex-lover Kiyo is endangered by secrets he can't--or won't--reveal. And as a formidable force rises to also threaten the human world, Eugenie must use her own cursed fate as a weapon--and risk the ultimate sacrifice...