“Shadow Cast” by Rachel Meenan

This is a young adult Fantasy that I am having trouble connecting to a specific age group.

In general, it is well structured, with the layers of conflict set up neatly, most of them coming directly from the personalities of the individuals involved. The plotline is complex, involving reasonable problems with difficult solutions.

The main characters are sympathetic, and their personalities are realistic, considering the fantasy setting. Action scenes are detailed and powerful, and our emotional connection with the main characters keeps the suspense high.

The physical setting is well thought out and described in detail, but it is the laws of the magical environment that cause me a problem. The author starts out by describing a specific set of rules that govern the conflict, but then everyone starts breaking them. Every magical character is an exception to some rule or other. The reader is just managing to figure out the rules governing the magic when it turns out the rules don’t work. Very frustrating.

I also have a question about the age range of the intended readers. While the material, the level of language (words like “hell,” “damn,” and “indiscernible”), and the advertised reading age is the 13-18 group, the use of animal characters like cats, badgers, and stags would usually appeal to a much younger audience.

In general, the balance of the conflict tips towards teenage angst, when more experienced readers would probably prefer more external conflict.

This is a good read for teenagers who are willing to believe that a humanoid with a full set of stag’s antlers could function in an urban setting.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

About the Author: Gordon Long

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